STILLWATER — Oklahoma State University faculty, students and others have used the university's online reporting system about 500 times to make confidential reports about policy violations since the program launched eight years ago.
Now, OSU officials are working to bring the same system to other colleges and universities around the state.
The Board of Regents for Oklahoma State University and the A&M Colleges adopted a new ethics policy at a meeting Friday.
That policy requires that all colleges and universities in the system implement an online system that allows users to make confidential reports about sexual assault on campus.
OSU has had an online reporting system in place since 2005. The system, called EthicsPoint, allows users to report concerns about any university policy violation to OSU officials. It allows users to remain anonymous, but also gives them the option of identifying themselves.
Once a user makes a report, that report then goes to one of 22 designated investigators, said Jamie Payne, OSU's chief human resources officer. Each area has its own investigator.
The director of safety investigates safety concerns, human resources officials look into employee misconduct and the university's NCAA compliance officer handles possible athletics policy violations.
Of the roughly 500 reports the system has seen since 2005, the most common issue has been employee misconduct, she said. Some of the reports tend to be complaints about management rather than policy violations, she said.
“Some of the issues are founded and some of them are not,” she said.
The board approved the requirement as a part of a package of policy changes related to campus safety and security. Although many of them are in response to a series of alleged sexual assaults at OSU, most of them apply to every college and university the board oversees.
Those changes came at the recommendation of a task force the board assembled to examine regents policy, as well as policies at each institution in the system, in the wake of the sex abuse scandal at Penn State University.
The original aim of the task force was to make sure the policies in place would prevent a situation like the one at Penn State to happen in Oklahoma and recommend changes where they were needed.
But after questions arose about the university's handling of a series of alleged sexual assaults at OSU, university President Burns Hargis asked the task force to review the university's response to that situation. The board then hired Dallas-based attorney James Sears Bryant to conduct that review and make policy recommendations.
Former OSU student Nathan Cochran, 22, is accused of groping male students while they slept. OSU officials suspended Cochran last year for violations of the university's sexual misconduct policy, but didn't contact police, citing concerns over the Federal Education Rights Privacy Act, commonly known as FERPA.
Stillwater police opened an investigation Dec. 7, after a reporter from the OSU student newspaper contacted the department with questions about the alleged incidents. That investigation began three and a half weeks after OSU officials became aware of the matter.
The Bryant report concludes OSU officials' response to the allegations was “misguided” and that officials misinterpreted FERPA when they claimed it prohibited them from calling police.
The report also concludes that university officials didn't break any law in not contacting police about the allegations.