In an attempt to comply with the past decade’s changing Title IX policies, a growing number of institutions have adopted policies requiring faculty members to report perceived sexual misconduct to designated administrators. These administrative decisions have come with mixed reviews. While Title IX scholars and trainers have by and large welcomed increased reporting requirements, faculty members have vocally criticized these mandates as destructive to the professor–student relationship and claimed unintended negative consequences of these policies. The “can I tell you something?” conversation is an all-too-common occurrence in the relationship between a student and his or her professor. While the nature of the conversation that follows this question could be centered on any number of topics, the common theme is relational. The student is approaching the professor because there is a level of trust that has been established. Consequently, the student feels comfortable sharing private, and sometimes what he or she would perceive as confidential, information with the professor. But, does the student’s comfortability require the professor to be the keeper of those secrets? Or, is that role more properly exercised by personnel outside the faculty community? This paper will explore the suggested conflict between Title IX reporting and the particular roles professors assume. While a professor’s initial reaction may be based on a good faith interest in keeping the student’s story confidential, sound reasoning demonstrates the role of the professor in higher education cannot be that of a parent, counselor, or confidant. While there have been a growing number of concerns with regard to potential overreaching in Title IX’s application and how that may affect a professor’s decision to discuss matters with students, these requirements have not placed an unnecessarily burdensome strain on the professor–student relationship or the professor’s ability to effectively fulfill his or her obligations as a teacher and mentor.
Stacy Scaldo, Loose Lips Required . . . And Appreciated: In Support of Title IX's Mandatory Reporting Requirements for Professors in Undergraduate and Graduate Education, 18 U.N.H. L. Rev. 225 (2020).