Written by REES
Over this past year, we have had many questions about REES, a simple, secure platform for reporting sexual violence. Sometimes there have been misconceptions about the features or functionality, so we thought we would take a moment to shed some light on three of the most common questions or misconceptions about the platform we hear from post-secondary administrators.
1. Post-secondary institutions do not want anonymous reports as they are limited in their ability to take action or investigate.
We know that some sexual violence policies at post-secondary institutions do not allow for, or account for, anonymous reports of sexual violence due to the inability to take action or contact the victim. For this reason, some institutions have assumed that they would not be able to have the Anonymous Report function on their campus. However, the Anonymous Report option with REES was created for anonymous data collection rather than to create an anonymous formal report.
Anonymous Reports submitted through REES gather only the non-identifying information in the Record created by the user. REES provides the aggregate, anonymous data to your institution following each term (or more frequently if requested). Anonymous Reports do not gather the identity of the survivor or the perpetrator. Key data points are shared, such as gender and school status of both the survivor and the perpetrator, date, time of day, location, and whether drugs and alcohol were involved.
Anonymous Report data provides valuable insights into trends or patterns, including locations, events, and times of year that campus sexual violence occurs. This data can inform the development of policy or procedures and identify gaps in services and responses. After sending an Anonymous Report, the survivor retains access to their Record should they choose another reporting option in the future.
2. How is the personal information of REES users from our campus community protected?
Survivors provide their information into the REES platform, where it remains encrypted until they decide when and with who they share the information. Neither the partner institution nor REES can access the information held in the REES platform, as only the survivor who created the Record has the key to decryption.
If a survivor uses the Connect to My Campus feature, they can send their contact information and the Record of their incident, if they choose, via an encrypted and password-protected PDF to the designated campus contact in real-time.
As a REES Campus Partner, you receive information from a survivor provided by them directly to you. REES is the holder of the information, but we cannot access it. It is not that different from when a student attends at the door of your sexual violence response centre to share their story and seek support, except with REES, they can do it online at any time.
Campus Partners also do not receive any information identifying a victim or perpetrator without the victim’s contact information. We recognize that many institutions do not want to receive identifying information about victims or perpetrators on their campus without being given contact information for the victim to follow up with them directly. Connect to My Campus and Repeat Perpetrator Identification allow a survivor to include identifying information about the perpetrator. However, both of these options require the survivor to share their contact information so they can be followed up with, thus, complying with sexual violence policies.
3. Post-secondary institutions have high requirements for privacy and security.
So do we! We developed REES, considering our responsibility to both survivors and institutions throughout the design process. Privacy and security are at the core of our decision-making.
All Records are encrypted and stored in Canada. We do not use third-party analytics or tracking and do not store IP addresses. REES strives for compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and is developed using the principles of Privacy by Design. Rhonda Friesen, the Dean of Students at Booth University College, said REES “Demonstrates the high level of care taken towards trauma-informed sensitivity, confidentiality and local connection that will empower users in ways not previously available.”
The REES platform was developed through consultation with stakeholders, including administration and sexual violence experts from post-secondary institutions; the platform was created to be compliant with the needs of campuses. We hope this provides clarity on some common misconceptions about the platform. We are always interested in hearing from campus communities, so if you want to learn more about REES or have additional questions, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.