Handling a Disclosure

Guidelines for Talking to Students About Your Duty to Report Sexual Misconduct, Intimate Partner Violence, and Stalking

MIT Staff have a responsibility to share information about incidents involving sexual assault/ harassment, intimate partner violence, or stalking with the Title IX Office. Below are some tools to assist you when handling a disclosure.

  1. This handout provides students with an overview of the various resources, reporting options, and procedures. It might be useful to print out and share with the student.
  2. Below are some suggested responses based on possible scenarios.

If a student seems like they want to tell you something sensitive, but is hesitant or wants you to promise “not to tell anyone”

In this situation, it is important to let the student know your reporting obligations and offer to continue talking to them or get them connected with a confidential resource.

“I’m glad you want to talk to me about a concern and that you feel comfortable speaking with me about something that I can see may be difficult to talk about. I want to make sure you understand my role here. I will do everything I can to protect your privacy but depending on what you tell me I may need to inform another administrator at the Institute.

“I am happy to talk to you more about your concerns, however if you would like to talk with someone on campus who can assure you a higher level of confidentiality, I can immediately connect you with a counselor at Mental Health or an advocate from Violence Prevention and Response (VPR).

“My main concern is your safety and well-being, so I want to ensure you understand what my role might be in the process. I am happy to listen more if you feel comfortable speaking with me further.”

If a student discloses an incident of sexual misconduct before you could explain your reporting obligations and is NOT in immediate crisis

Listen to the student without asking questions. When it feels appropriate, inform the student of your obligation to notify the Title IX Office. This will allow the student to continue talking to you and also decide what information they may want to share and what information they may want to keep private.

“Thank you very much for talking with me about your experience. I am very sorry to hear about what occurred. I want to assure you that we will handle this matter in a sensitive manner and that we take these concerns extremely seriously. I want to let you know that I have a responsibility to inform the Title IX Staff who can help address your concerns and ensure we are responding appropriately. Someone will contact you soon to inform you of your options. Please know that any response will be guided by what you would like to do.”

If a student discloses an incident of sexual misconduct and IS in crisis

Listen to the student and when you identify that they need immediate, additional support, inform the student that you can call Violence Prevention and Response’s 24-hour hotline (a trained advocate is available to speak with the student immediately) or the MIT Police Department. Getting the student connected is the primary concern. If explaining your reporting obligations might be stressful or overwhelming at this time, you can revisit this with them at a later time. Ensure that the student is connected to support services and contact the Title IX Office to discuss the next steps.