Is a RealResponse the Right One for University?

New tech for reporting misconduct has intersected with higher ed — and the reactions are fascinating and instructive.

Clemson University says it has become the first to offer @RealResponse, a real-time system for anonymously reporting alleged misconduct by text message, to an entire university community. Reporters can include photos and videos and may get text responses from compliance teams in real-time. The system has been popular in sports organizations and college athletic departments.

To Clemson officials, and likely to compliance pros, the system provides one more option to encourage reporting. But on-campus reaction at Clemson has included suspicion and privacy concerns. 

The “independent” student outlet Tiger Town Observer decried the system in an editorial, likening anonymous reporting to “Communist China”; the op-ed argues that the university’s community culture will be degraded by what #ethicsandcompliance types would say is the whole purpose of the system: “it encourages members of the Clemson Family to report on one another.” 

The web outlet The College Fix quotes one undergrad who questioned Clemson’s motives, stating, “If there is a genuine concern, students should contact the appropriate authorities to intervene instead, not bureaucratic university officials whose real concern is protecting the university itself.”

Of course, the University Compliance Office is an “appropriate authority,” but there are bigger points. The kind of big compliance systems that are often imposed by fiat in the corporate world will face different obstacles in the education sector, including students and faculty who highly value an ethos of “academic freedom.” A suspicious reaction is also more likely in the context of the hyper-charged social environment of higher ed. And in both worlds — corporate and education — compliance must be built on a base of mutual trust and transparency.

Incorporating advanced compliance into university life is a unique logistical and cultural challenge. LeadGood Education is here to help.

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