COVID-19 and Title IX FAQs

COVID-19 and UWL's Sexual Misconduct Prevention Efforts

We understand that this is a stressful and challenging time for all of our students, faculty, staff, and their families and loved ones.  We hope that all members of the UWL community, wherever you may be, do your part to uphold our values and mutual obligations regarding inclusivity, safety, and equity, for yourselves and each other.  To submit your question to the Title IX Team, please click here.

General Questions as it Relates to COVID-19 and Sexual Misconduct

Do Title IX and university policies on sexual misconduct still apply during the disruptions caused by COVID-19? expanding section

Yes.  Our policies still apply and our institutional commitment to preventing and responding to sexual misconduct is as strong as ever.  While some of us are operating remotely, you have our commitment to responding promptly and equitably to eliminate misconduct, preventing its recurrence, and addressing its effects.  We are here to serve you and to respond to reports of sexual misconduct in a manner that is timely, fair, and equitable.

Can sexual harassment or sexual misconduct happen in purely online contexts? expanding section

Yes.  Sexual harassment can include online communications, including emails, text messages, social media, and communications that take place in online discussions as part of a class.  In addition, some online behaviors may constitute stalking or sexual exploitation.  Terms like “cyber-harassment” or “cyber-stalking” are often used to describe these phenomena.  The fact that communications or behaviors take place online or off-campus does not exempt them from accountability under our policies.

If I am an employee, does COVID-19 change my reporting obligations? expanding section

No. If you witness or learn about sexual misconduct, including in a course you are teaching online, you should report it promptly so that the university can take appropriate action.

Reporting Sexual Misconduct During COVID-19

How can I file a report of sexual misconduct? expanding section

You can make a report by:

  • Meeting "in-person"
  • By mail - 1725 State Street; 131 Graff Main Hall; La Crosse, WI. 54630
  • By telephone - 608.785.8043
  • By email
  • Or by using our online reporting form
How can I contact you? expanding section

You may contact me by:

  • By mail - 1725 State Street; 131 Graff Main Hall; La Crosse, WI. 54630
  • By telephone - 608.785.8043
  • By email
How will you be protecting students and staff who are in intimate partner or domestic violence situations in which their electronic devices are being withheld or spied on? expanding section

The use of technology to stalk is frequently practiced by abusers, and we are aware that social distancing may present a heightened threat level for those experiencing violence in their intimate relationships.  Any student, faculty, or staff member who is concerned for their personal safety as a result of the COVID-19 precautions should seek assistance from one of the campus or community programs that exist for this purpose.  One of these programs can provide confidential assistance, always with the victim’s safety in mind.

If students cannot complete assignments because of intimate partner or domestic violence situations, how should they go about seeking leniency from their professors? Will students who ask for leniency be forced to come forward about IPV or DV? expanding section

Students can always seek assistance from UWL without completing an official report, and no one is ever forced to come forward about IPV or DV.  Student Services Specialist Andrew Ives frequently outreaches to professors on students’ behalf in situations such as these without disclosing the exact nature of the situation.  Andrew is a confidential resource and can be reached by contacting the Student Life office at (608)785-8062.  Students can also access this service by contacting any of the other UWL Confidential Resources.

Will they have to fill out a report, even if they don't want to or it is not safe for them to because their devices are being monitored? expanding section

Accessing confidential resources/advocacy never requires someone to report.  All DV programs, both on and off-campus, are aware that many victims’ activities are heavily monitored by their abuser and have safety protocols in place when meeting with or contacting people seeking assistance.

What about harassment from people hacking into or crashing video meetings? I've heard of instances where slurs were written on-screen or people were flashed. What is the university doing to prevent that from happening? expanding section

Most of the reported harassment from people hacking into or crashing video meetings centers on the utilization of Zoom as a platform.  Our ITS department has stated that Zoom is not an official UWL tool and is not supported by the university.

The platforms we do have, WebEx and Microsoft Teams, are easily controlled as who can “attend” a meeting.  By controlling who can “attend” the meetings, we have the ability to identify a party if someone on our campus engages in behaviors that violate our policies.  Anyone who experiences or learns about inappropriate or disruptive behavior, especially of a sexual, discriminatory, or harassing nature, is encouraged to report it.

Report Intakes and Supportive Measures During COVID-19

What happens after I file a report? expanding section

A representative of our Title IX team will contact you to learn more about your immediate needs and how we can support you. We will also answer any questions you have about the investigative process. This conversation can take place by phone or video chat.

The Title IX Coordinator will contact you, the Reporter, to learn more about the Complainant.  Once a Complainant has been identified, the Title IX Coordinator will reach out to them to request a meeting.  During this meeting, the Title IX Coordinator will offer and discuss any supportive measures the Complainant may need.  These supportive measures are offered regardless what decision a Complainant may make.  Next, the Title IX Coordinator will explain what options a Complainant has moving forward in the University process: not to file a formal complaint; file a formal complaint and go through an informal resolution process; file a formal complaint and go through the investigation process.  Following, the Title IX Coordinator will explain each option so that the Complaint can make an informed decision.  No decision has to be made at that time.

For a more comprehensive account of what happens after a report has been filed, please visit our sexual misconduct process page.

What about interim measures or accommodations? expanding section

Supportive measures are available and are offered to both the Complainants and Respondents.  Students who are the subject of a no-contact order may not initiate contact by any means, including phone, email, chat, or social media. Academic accommodations are available as well.  Depending on your location, we may be able to help connect you to counseling resources in your local area, in addition to UWL resources.

What if I don’t want an investigation to be launched until I (and the other person) are back on campus? expanding section

The decision to move forward with an investigation is up to the Complainant, unless the Title IX Coordinator believes there is an ongoing or immediate threat to anyone's safety.  It is important to note that supportive measures are available regardless if a Complainant wishes to move forward with the formal or informal process.

Investigations During COVID-19

Is UWL still conducting investigations? expanding section

Yes. Our investigations are continuing and we are initiating investigations on incoming reports just like before the COVID-19 disruptions. The primary difference is that our work, including investigative interviews and hearings, are being conducted remotely rather than in-person.

If I am part of a current investigation, what can I expect? expanding section

You can expect the investigation to continue unless there is a genuine reason for it to be paused.  For example, if one of the parties is ill or caring for a family member and therefore temporarily unable to participate in the investigative process.

If you are part of a current investigation and have questions or concerns about your case, please contact the Title IX Coordinator.

Do I still have the right to a person of support? expanding section

Yes, even if the investigation is being conducted remotely, you still have the right to a person of support, and that person does not have to be at the same location where you are.  The participation of your support person may change due to OCR's 2020 New Regulations.  If you have questions related to your support person, please contact the Title IX Coordinator.

Do I still have the right to an advisor? expanding section

Yes, even if the investigation is being conducted remotely, you still have the right to an advisor, and that person does not have to be at the same location where you are.  This advisor may or may not be an attorney.

Due to OCR's 2020 New Regulations, all parties must have an advisor for cross-examination purposes in Title IX hearings.  If a party does not have an advisor for cross-examination purposes in Title IX hearings, one will be appointed for them on behalf of the university.

How will evidence, documents, and investigation summary reports be shared? expanding section

We will work with parties and witnesses in each case to ensure that any physical evidence, documents in paper or electronic form, and other materials relevant to the investigation are received and reviewed in a fair and secure manner.  When the university provides parties with copies of investigative reports or other documents, we do so electronically via secure means, including links that have an expiration date.

How are my privacy rights protected if I participate in an online videoconference interview or hearing? expanding section

We will conduct all interviews, meetings, and hearings on technology platforms that are secure, password-protected, and accessible to the participants. All participants are expected to participate from a private location that is conducive for the discussion of confidential and sensitive information. All participants are entitled to know who else is attending or participating. All participants are expected to disclose who else is present with them in their location and to disclose whether any recording is being made.

Confidential Support, Counseling, and Advocacy Resources During COVID-19

Who Can I Contact for Assistance? expanding section

Campus Resources:

Our Violence Prevention Specialist is available for phone or online consultations, including finding help in your home community. Please submit a confidential request for assistance.

Additional UWL Confidential Resources are available.

UWL Counseling and Testing Center personnel are available by telephone: 608-785-8073 (response to voicemail messages will not be immediate).

24-Hour Community Resources:

  • Great Rivers 211 (dial 211) or 1-800-362-TALK (8255)
  • Gundersen Health System Domestic Abuse/Sexual Assault Program Hotline: 608-775-5950
  • Mayo Health System Safepath: 608-392-7804
  • New Horizons Shelter and Outreach Centers: 608-791-2600 (local) or toll-free at 1-888-231-0066
  • Wisconsin Hmong Family Strengthening Helpline: 1-877-740-4292