Confidentiality Policy

Confidentiality, Privacy, and Mandatory Reports

The University values the privacy of its students, employees, and other community members. Community members should be able to seek the assistance they need without fear that the information they provide will be shared more broadly. Some resources on campus are completely confidential, for example, Sexual Violence Response and Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS), and will not share any identifying information with others, except as required by law in emergency circumstances.

Other Confidential resources on campus include: Sexual Violence Response, Clergy, Counseling and Psychological Services (Morningside/Manhattanville), Mental Health Services (CUIMC), Disability Services, the Ombuds Office, and Healthcare Providers.[1]

University advocates, counselors, clergy, disability services professionals, the Ombuds Office staff, and healthcare providers can provide students with immediate and long-term help. Conversations with them are confidential, except in certain emergencies as described in the Resources list in Appendix B. of Columbia’s Gender-Based Misconduct Policy/Interim Title IX Policy (PDF). These resources will listen, help students to access additional assistance if needed, and explain options for obtaining additional support from the University and others.

The May 2020 Title IX regulations provide that universities must maintain as confidential any supportive accommodations provided to a Complainant or Respondent, to the extent that maintaining such confidentiality would not impair the ability of the institution to provide the supportive accommodations. The regulations also provide that universities must keep confidential the identity of any individual who has made a report or complaint of sex discrimination, including any individual who has made a report or filed a formal complaint of sexual harassment, any complainant, any individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of sex discrimination, any respondent, and any witness. However, the regulations also make exceptions for disclosure of information to conduct an investigation or hearing under the Interim Title IX Policy. The regulations also allow for disclosures that are permitted by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”), 20 U.S.C. 1232g, or FERPA regulations, 34 CFR part 99, or as required by law, or to carry out the purposes of the Title IX regulations, including the conduct of any judicial proceeding arising under those regulations.

Other resources, like Public Safety, the Title IX Office and the Gender-Based Misconduct Office (GBMO) are not confidential, but will protect students’ privacy to the greatest extent possible and share information with other staff only on a need-to-know basis. This includes the Title IX Coordinator(s) and any Deputy or Designee of the Title IX Coordinator, who are required by federal law to address allegations of discrimination and to institute corrective measures if they receive a report or information that may indicate a violation of the Interim Title IX Policy. 

Other “non-confidential” resources include faculty and most student-facing staff (including Teaching Assistants, coaches, and students employed by the University and acting in an official capacity, such as Resident Advisors), who are required by the University to provide relevant information about gender-based misconduct complaints to the Gender-Based Misconduct Office (GBMO) or the Title IX Coordinator. Staff within GBMO, in consultation with the appropriate Title IX Coordinator(s), are responsible for connecting students with supportive resources and working to ensure community safety. They are “mandatory reporters” and they do not have discretion regarding their responsibility to report. However, if a report is made, the complainant can decide not to engage with the University in resolving the complaint. 

  1. Students may use these resources even if they decide not to make a report or participate in University disciplinary proceedings or the criminal justice process.