Cal Lutheran releases new incident reporting system

Elisa Zody, Reporter

California Lutheran University recently introduced a new incident reporting system with intentions of making the process to file incidents like harassment and discrimination easier. Previous to this system, the university did not have an online reporting option.

Vice President of Talent, Culture, and Diversity, Cristallea Buchanan said that she could tell people were confused about knowing where and what to report. Buchanan was the one who developed a way for students, faculty and staff to report incidents of any matter in one place.  

“There was a lot of frustration, and the campus felt there was a lack of accountability on these issues,” Buchanan said.

Over the past couple of months, a committee of various faculty members have been working hard to develop a system that would make reporting and investigating incidents easier. President Varlotta sent out an email announcing the reporting system and thanking the committee on Jan 7.

“We created an incident reporting system for anyone on campus, to just go to our website and report it, regardless of if its harassment, discrimination, or a bias,” Buchanan said. 

After submitting an incident, the reporter should expect an automatic confirmation email. The incident response team will review the information and evidence and forward it on to be investigated if determined necessary. If harassment, discrimination, or another violation of student handbook policies is found, Buchanan ensures that appropriate consequences will be enforced. For a list of all possible violations visit the policies section of the incident reporting website

More information about the new system and the incident response team can be found on Cal Lutheran’s official website. In addition to Buchanan, the response team consists of Salma Loo, Sarah Garcia, Patricia Parham and Chris Paul. With help of the committee, Buchanan brought together this group of people in hopes to eliminate biases when it comes to investigating an incident. Buchanan chose to speak on behalf of the team. 

“We have a cross functional team, representing CARE, Title IX, HR, and Campus Safety, all reporting to me,” Buchanan said. 

Aside from their regular positions, the incident response team are all equals when it comes to making decisions about a case.

“We get alerted that a report has been submitted and we meet as a group. I like the fact that we are a diverse team representing different functions of the campus, so we can check each other’s biases, and then we route it to the appropriate department for investigation,” Buchanan said.

Beth Turner, director of Counseling and Psychological Services, assisted in the development of the incident reporting system. According to Turner, the development of this new system is long overdue. A similar form for reporting incidents was released on the Cal Lutheran’s website in 2008, but it was not heavily utilized. One of the major goals for this new system was to make the option of reporting incidents more well known across campus, as well as connecting individuals with appropriate resources that will help them. 

If a student, faculty or staff member bears witness to or experiences any sort of harassment, discrimination, or bias they are encouraged to submit a report on the incident reporting website. Salma Loo, Campus Awareness, Referral, and Education (CARE) case manager and member of the incident response team clarified in an email that urgent issues regarding the well being of a student should be reported to [email protected] so that the student can receive resources and support as soon as possible.

“If there is a concern about a student’s well-being in relation to the report that is submitted, the reporter is also welcome to share that with the CARE Team,” Loo said.

Turner said that she hopes the incident reporting system will provide data and transparency about incidents on campus that will inform the community about systemic issues that need to be fixed. 

“Hopefully in the collection of reports it will create systemic change,” Turner said

As for Buchanan, she wishes that the Cal Lutheran community will give the new incident reporting system a chance.

“Every incident, I guarantee you, will be taken seriously,” Buchanan said.

For more information about the incident reporting system, visit the California Lutheran University’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion page.