Checklist for Academic Leaders and Supervisors Supporting Employees or Students Experiencing Online Harassment

Online harassment is the repeated use of digital technologies (social media, email, text message, gaming platforms or other messaging services) to post unwanted, inaccurate, or threatening content specifically targeting an individual or group. These attacks generally single out an individual and can be professionally disruptive and upsetting. 

Supervisors and academic leads are often the first point of contact to start the process of assisting scholars who find themselves targeted by online harassment.

These incidents can be very intense and frightening and often escalate quickly. Moving quickly is important to support the scholar or students who are impacted.

Step 1 - Evaluate if immediate action is needed

  • Call 9-1-1 if the employee, their family, or an identifiable group (for example, a class) are in imminent danger. 
  • See resources and contacts below for situations that are serious, but harm is not imminent.

Step 2 - Document it

Working together with the employee affected, take screenshots and save the unique links to posts or messages in a separate document. Be sure to grab information about the user or handle names, their real name, the links to their profiles and any other information about the source of the harassment. This information will be useful to get other support units up to speed quickly and uniformly on the situation and can be used as evidence. Please note that some documentation, such as emails and text messages, can be privy to public information requests. Keep that in mind when creating any documents. 

Step 3 - Confirm that the UC Davis Police Department and responses teams have been contacted, if needed

If not, do so immediately. Provide whatever documentation you have collected so far to the police department and to the appropriate response teams.

Step 4 - Provide resources

Share with the employee the link to “Guide to Combatting Social Media Trolls and Online Harassment” guidance and share ASAP information for support.  

Step 5 - Mobilize the following response teams and university resources

Immediate response team

 

UC Davis Police Department

Davis Campus: 911 or 530-752-1230

Sacramento Campus: 911 or 916-734-2555

The police department will assess the situation and ensure that support and investigative action can begin immediately. Provide any documentation you have started. 

 

Workplace Violence Committee (for employees)

Resources and contact information to report for non-emergency workplace intimidation, threats or acts of violence. 

 

Student Concern Response Team (OSSJA)

OSSJA coordinates the Students of Concern Response Team (SCRT), an interdisciplinary group of professionals that manages situations involving students of concern who present with serious risk of harm to self or others. This team of UC Davis staff and law enforcement professionals meet on a weekly basis and when needed to ensure a comprehensive approach to students of concern. 

 

University resources 

 

Dean’s Office                                                         

Inform the dean’s office as quickly as possible. The unit administration can assist with everything from identifying alternate space for classes to ensuring that campus administration services are mobilized.

 

Provost’s Office                                            

Together with the dean’s office, contact the office of the provost. Provide the documentation and the provost’s office can activate leadership. 

 

Harassment and Discrimination Assistance and Prevention Program (HDAPP)

530-747-3864 (Davis Campus)  

916-734-3417 (Sacramento)

HDAPP assists individuals and campus units to resolve conflicts and complaints related to harassment, discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual violence and hate and bias and serves as the central office for receiving reports and maintaining records of these types of complaints. Online: Report a hate or bias incident | email: hdapp@ucdavis.edu

 

Information Technology Services (IET)

(530) 754-4357 | cybersecurity@ucdavis.edu

Alert IET (or the department’s IT) to help begin managing the scholar’s email, directory listing, and online presence. 

 

Strategic Communications

530-752-1930 or news@ucdavis.edu 

Strategic Communications will handle any incoming media inquiries, social media impacts and support, and will coordinate with the college’s communications professionals to assist with a communications strategy and any statement that may need to be written. 

 

Academic and Staff Assistance Program (ASAP)

UC Davis (530) 752-272

UC Davis Health (916) 734-2727

ASAP offers confidential, cost free consultation and referral services to all UC Davis and UC Davis Health faculty, staff and their immediate families.

 

Office of Campus Counsel

Campus Counsel works together with Strategic Communications should any communications need to be issued or if legal action is potentially necessary. Note: Campus Counsel does not provide legal advice to individual faculty, staff, or students. 

 

Academic Affairs         

Contact Page

Academic Affairs can help academic leaders with conflict management, and engaging in problem-solving to help reduce potential liability.


 

Step 6 - Prepare for potential impacts

  • Prepare staff to handle phone calls, emails, social media comments and inquiries about the harassment issue. If an approved statement is available from strategic communications, provide the below message to staff receiving calls to use until a statement or talking points are made available:
    • “Thank you for reaching out about this issue. Our team is aware of the situation. All inquiries and questions about this are being handled by Strategic Communications.”
  • If the attack is impacting an instructor, prepare if, when and how questions about how the situation will be addressed with their students. Keep in mind that if the attacks are threatening in nature and are public, some students may feel uncomfortable coming to a classroom. Have a plan to move the class location, offer remote options, or take other appropriate steps. Think about whether the impact of the attack ripples out to other classrooms, labs or others in your department.
  • Create a contingency plan to take effect if the issue persists long enough to impact the instructor’s ability to teach effectively. Consider options (such as bringing in substitutes or creating other ways to cover the curriculum) to keep classes moving forward.