courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Revealing the TU sexual assault investigation process

With a perceived rise in sexual assaults on TU’s campus comes an increased effort to investigate past and prevent future sexual assault cases.

University of Tulsa Dean of Students, Mike Mills, explained the basic logistics of what happens when a student makes a complaint to the university. As the former acting Title IX coordinator on campus and having worked side-by-side with TU President Gerard Clancy, Mills offered some invaluable information to anyone on campus who has already, or needs to, report an assault.

The process of reporting an infraction starts much as one would expect. The complainant will either call or email the Office of Student Affairs to ask for a meeting time. Sometimes reports are also made in security or housing. Mills said that once he has knowledge that a complaint has been made to any of these sources, he promptly sets up a meeting time with the student reporting. Complaints can range from a fellow student being rude to stalking.

Mills said that the plethora of reports “runs the gamut.”

If a sexual assault allegation is filed and a student has already discussed the details of the incident with security or another department, Mills says he understands that a victim may not want to relay all of that information again, so he takes every precaution when deciding what is essential in talking about in the preliminary meeting.

No matter what the complaint, Mills assures that his first question is always, “are you okay?”.

After establishing the safety and general well-being of the student, if no official report has been made, Mills will present the student with a student complaint form. The form was just revised and put on the TU website along with the university-wide complaint policy. If a student is comfortable putting their report in writing, they fill out the form for a documented written record.

Anonymous reporting is an available option to all complainants. Mills is obligated to look at each individual report and decide how best to keep someone anonymous. If there is a report of a sexual assault where the reporter wishes to be anonymous, the complaint boils down to how to best keep this individual and the entire campus safe without betraying the confidentiality of the victim.

After a written complaint is filed with Mills and all aggressors are identified, the complaint is analyzed to see if it violates the student code of conduct. If so, the next step is to see what measures need to be taken. For a Title IX complaint, a student is directed to security as quickly as possible for an investigation to be started. If the issue is academically related, then the complaint is transferred to the academic department.

Mills tries to encourage students to minimize hearsay and gossip, by keeping the information discussed in these meetings and anything pertaining to a case to themselves and the students the complaint involves.

Mills discussed a specific situation where a student discussed an event so much outside of any department that by the time they came in to make a report, the other involved party had already been to security, thus complicating the situation immensely.

“We’re not saying ‘keep this quiet’”, Mills reassured, rather “be discrete.”

The main goal when handling a report is to make sure that the complaint and the supporting evidence are well preserved. Mills wants students to know that there are numerous resources for anyone and any issue, and that he is more than happy to provide access to those resources to each and every student who needs them.

Post Author: Tori Gellman