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Who is the Practitioner in Faculty-Staff Sexual Misconduct Work? Views from the UK and US

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JournalJournal of interpersonal violence
DateAccepted/In press - 14 Dec 2021
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article maps and compares four universities’ policies and procedures for addressing faculty and staff sexual misconduct in higher education (FASSM) in the UK and US. While universities have engaged in significant work to grapple with student-student sexual misconduct, attention to misconduct perpetrated, and experienced, by higher education employees is relatively nascent. In this paper, we explore the maze of institutional processes and actors that victim-survivors of FASSM might encounter. We describe what is known about prevalence of FASSM in the US and UK and offer an overview of the policy landscape in both settings. Inspired by Patricia Yancey Martin (2005), we analyze publicly available policy documents on FASSM from two US and two UK universities and map out visually the range of investigative, reporting, and sanctioning processes. We introduce an analytic distinction between an actor and a practitioner within the FASSM context, whereby actors are those tasked with administrative duties in handling sexual misconduct reports, while practitioners are those with specialized knowledge and training that enables them to prioritize victim-survivor needs. These illustrative diagrams suggest that while university employees are tasked to act on reports and disclosures of sexual misconduct, it is difficult to identify specialist practitioners with expertise to support victim-survivors of FASSM. Ultimately, this work provides a deeper understanding of what practice looks like in relation to higher education FASSM, and we outline implications for future research directions.

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