Frequently Asked Questions

What can OEO help with?

If you have experienced any form of discrimination or harassment (including sexual harassment) based on a protected category, or any form of sexual violence (including sexual assault, dating or relationship violence, or stalking), our office is here to help. Protected categories include race, color, national origin, ethnicity, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, religion, disability, and age.

Find the complete list of protected categories here.

If you are seeking support, and are not yet sure you would like to notify Emerson of your concern, you can contact a confidential resource.

Who can report to OEO?

Anyone at Emerson College, including students, faculty members, and staff, can report concerns they may be having about discrimination, harassment or sexual violence.

You can report something that happened to you, or something that you heard, saw, or learned about. If you are reporting something that happened to someone else, we will reach out to the person who was impacted by the conduct to determine how we can help them with their experience.

What if I’m not sure this is an OEO issue?

Even if you’re not sure what might be happening, or don’t have all the information, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We can talk with you about your experience to help understand who on campus is best positioned to address your concern. If it is not an OEO issue, we can help connect you with the right resource to support you.

Can I report anonymously?

Yes. You can submit an anonymous report via our reporting portal. However, it is important that you follow up on an anonymous report by re-engaging with the reporting portal (you will still be anonymous). If you do not follow up on an anonymous report, the College will most likely be unable to address your concerns.

When you submit your report, you will create a password and receive a “Report Key.” To follow up, please be sure to write the key down and use it to log back into the portal about a week later. Through this portal, OEO can ask follow-up questions and gather additional information while you maintain your anonymity. OEO can also set up a time to live chat with you anonymously through the portal, so that we can learn more about your concerns and share information about what your options might be.

Keep in mind that just because OEO knows your name does not mean that we have to disclose your name. You can talk to OEO about options to address the conduct without using your name. A formal process cannot be pursued anonymously.

If I reach out to OEO, when can I expect to hear from someone?

OEO will typically respond to reports we receive within one week after receipt, but often sooner than that. That outreach will usually come to you as an email and will typically include information about support resources. Please note that OEO is not a place to report emergencies or matters that require an immediate response. If you have an emergency or an immediate concern for your safety, please call 911 or the Emerson College Police Department at 617-824-8888.

Will OEO report my issue to law enforcement?

No. While you may have the option to report to law enforcement, it is your decision whether or not to do so. If you do decide you want to talk with the police, OEO can provide you with information about how to do that and support you with that process. It is your choice. The only exception to this might be a situation where there is an immediate threat to others or the campus community (which is very rare).

What’s the difference between a confidential resource and other offices on campus?

Confidential resources exist so that anyone – students, faculty, or staff – can speak to someone about their concerns without reporting the behavior to Emerson. These resources are specifically designated as confidential because they are legally prohibited from disclosing any information shared without your permission. Confidential resources can be a great place for people to go when they are unsure about what they may want to do or are still processing their experience. Confidential resources allow people to seek support and get information without notifying Emerson about their concerns. A list of confidential resources at Emerson can be found here.

Anyone who works for Emerson outside of those confidential resource offices is obligated to share information disclosed to them about discrimination, harassment, or sexual violence with OEO. Those individuals and OEO will treat your information as private and will handle it as discreetly as possible. When you speak to anyone who is not designated as confidential, you are notifying Emerson about your experience, and OEO will follow up with you. You still can choose whether you want to work with OEO.

For a list of on and off campus resources, see here.

What happens after I make a report, or someone I spoke to reports my issue to OEO?

OEO will work with you about what next steps, if any, make sense for you and your experience. First, OEO will reach out to you via email offering to set up a meeting and directing you towards on-campus support resources. You can decide whether or not you respond to this email. OEO will typically email you three times and will stop outreach if we do not hear from you after that. However, OEO is always available in the future if you decide you want to talk with us later. When you speak to OEO, you are notifying Emerson about your experience (see below “Who Will Know About My Report?”). OEO is available to talk in person or virtually.

If you choose to meet with OEO, we will talk with you about your experience, walk you through possible options to address your experience, and discuss the support measures that are available to help you. You can decide whether you want to accept or decline support measures. You can also decide whether you want to take any next steps to address your concerns after meeting with OEO. Our goal is to help you understand your options so you can make the decision that's right for you.

As you consider your options, please know there is usually no rush. We will work at your pace.

Who will know about my report? Will the person I reported know I reported them?

OEO keeps your information private. It will only be shared with people necessary to administer the College’s response. It is not our practice to contact the person whose conduct was reported (the accused individual) without first talking to the impacted party about what they would like to see happen. We want to make sure that you maintain control over your experience and what happens next.

In some situations, you may have the option to pursue a formal process, which involves an investigation into the concerns raised (more information here). If you choose that option, the person you reported will receive a written notice about the concerns raised and the process itself. OEO will meet with both parties to discuss what you can expect from the investigation process. It is not possible to pursue a formal process anonymously.

What do I have to prepare in order to be able to report to OEO?

You do not need to prepare anything prior to meeting with us. If you want to report a concern, just send us an email at oeo [at] (oeo[at]emerson[dot]edu) with as much or as little detail as you’d like and we’ll schedule a time to talk. OEO can help you think about what is important or needed in this situation, so please do not feel like you need to do any work in advance of meeting with us.

Will OEO keep me updated about what steps are being taken?

If you are the person who experienced the conduct, yes. We will stay in touch with you throughout the process and keep you informed of next steps. If you reported something that happened to someone else, because of privacy considerations, you should not expect to receive further updates regarding that situation or any response to the concerns that were raised. Our focus is always on the person who experienced the conduct, also known as the impacted party.

Can I pursue a formal process for something that happened to my friend?

No. You can let us know about something that happened to a friend, but only the person who experienced the conduct, known as the impacted party, can choose to pursue a formal process or any other response to this concern. Experiencing misconduct can be deeply disempowering, and we want the person who experienced it to maintain control over what does or does not happen next.The best way to support an impacted person is to make sure that you are supporting their decisions, even if those are not the choices you feel you might have made in that situation.

Why does my faculty member/coach/supervisor have to share what I told them with OEO?

Every faculty and staff member at Emerson, except for those explicitly designated as a confidential resource, are considered responsible reporters. If they learn about an incident of discrimination, harassment, or sexual violence, they are required to share what they learn with OEO. This allows Emerson to take steps to make sure the impacted party is getting the support they need and to make sure they know about their options for addressing the misconduct. Remember that you can decide whether or not you wish to engage with OEO, even if a matter has already been reported to our office.

If you want support about something you experienced without reporting it to Emerson, please see our list of confidential resources.

Can an investigation against me happen without me knowing about it?

No. The only time an OEO investigation happens is when a Formal Complaint has been initiated with our office. In a Formal Complaint process, the person who initiated the complaint is known as the Complainant and the person accused in the complaint is known as the Respondent.The first step of that process is for the Respondent to receive written notice of the complaint and to meet with OEO about the process. Both the Complainant and Respondent are welcome to bring a support person/advisor to all meetings with OEO throughout the process.

If someone files an OEO complaint about me, will I be disciplined?

Discipline is only imposed if a Formal Complaint has been initiated, fully investigated, and the Respondent has been found responsible for violating College policy by a Decision-Making Panel through either the Formal Resolution Process or the Title IX Grievance Process. Sanctions can include (but are not limited to) probation, suspension and dismissal from the College. Outside of the formal process, OEO sometimes will engage with individuals through informal resolutions that are not punitive and are meant to help people succeed and hopefully avoid any future problems.

All parties involved in the investigation are entitled to support resources throughout the process. That can include counseling, housing changes, schedule changes, and academic support.