Claremont McKenna College announced the launching of CMCListens, an online platform for reporting instances of misconduct and other serious concerns within the CMC community, on Oct. 5.
The platform was announced in an email to the student body from Vice President and General Counsel Matthew Bibbens. In the email, Bibbens discussed the responsibility of the CMC Community.
“Claremont McKenna College is dedicated to fostering an ethical and engaged community—a community united in the singular purpose of fulfilling our mission of responsible leadership in everything we do, every day of the year,” Bibbens wrote. “Each of us—students, faculty, staff, administrators—play a critical role in this vital effort.”
According to the email, members of the CMC community may report incidents with varying degrees of anonymity. When reporting an incident, one may choose to remain entirely anonymous, to remain anonymous to CMC but not to the third-party firm maintaining the system, or to provide their name and contact information.
Bibbens also explained that reporters are given unique IDs within the system so that the reporter may track what is being done within the administration and so that the administration may contact the reporter for more information if necessary.
“We’re trying to promote an institution where people can feel free and welcome to raise concerns, and that it’s fine to raise concerns,” said Bibbens. “We want to value complying with the law.”
At the same time, Bibbens insisted that this platform should not replace direct conversations whenever possible.
“There’s always a hope that students or anyone else will feel comfortable [coming] forward to the right person with appropriate confidentiality,” he said.
He also said that this should not replace continuous dialogue about isolated and ongoing issues on campus.
In the email to students, Bibbens wrote, “This is not to replace our direct, joint conversations even about difficult topics. At times, having a direct conversation is not possible, and for those occasions, it is important that we provide an alternative means for escalating your special concerns.”
Students have expressed approval for the system's option of anonymity.
“I think having an anonymous online platform to post incidents of whatever kind combats the bystander effect—now you have more people reporting the things they see,” Anna Shepard CM ‘17 said.
Kyleigh Mann CM ‘18 echoed Shepard's sentiments.
“I think this is an important platform to catch the more difficult conversation topics that tend to slip through the cracks,” Mann said.
Bibbens explained that the system evolved from a previously-existing “whistleblower platform” for reporting financial misconduct. The platform was not widely advertised since it was not extremely relevant to daily life, but in recent years there has been a push towards strengthening resources for reporting instances of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault, according to Bibbens. He also mentioned the increasing popularity of hotlines or online platforms to report incidents within organizations.
“There’s now a pretty clear trend to take those original whistleblower hotline systems and open them up more broadly as part of this ethics and compliance framework,” Bibbens said. “It’s an affirmative program that includes a variety of activities that we do.”
Bibbens said that CMCListens is not related to the Personal and Social Responsibility Initiative, but instead is a parallel effort to improve campus culture.