Reports and investigations of prohibited student conduct at the University of Michigan increased in fiscal year 2017, following the addition of new types of allegations covered under the university’s policy, and increased efforts to enhance awareness of these issues and how to report concerns.
New types of allegations now covered under the policy on student sexual and gender-based misconduct include intimate partner violence, gender-based harassment and violation of interim measures.
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Collectively, these allegations account for 15 percent of the 218 reports received last year, according to the Annual Report Regarding Prohibited Conduct.
The report, issued by the university’s Office for Institutional Equity, provides case-by-case outcomes of all investigations carried out by OIE under the direction of the university’s Title IX coordinator.
“U-M encourages individuals to report misconduct to the university and, if the behavior is criminal in nature, to law enforcement. We are deeply invested in providing resources and support as well as addressing these issues through a fair and effective process,” says Pamela Heatlie, the university’s Title IX coordinator, senior director of OIE and associate vice provost for academic and faculty affairs.
OIE received 218 reports of prohibited conduct between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017, an increase from 157 the previous year. There was a total of 28 investigations compared to 18 the previous year.
“We believe that this increase is the result of enhanced awareness on campus of these issues and how to report concerns, as well as the addition of new types of allegations now covered under the policy that were previously addressed under different university policies,” Heatlie says.
In July 2016, the university expanded its policy to include additional behaviors and provide more detail on the university’s process for handling matters involving student prohibited conduct.
Following the policy revision, the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Center implemented a campuswide campaign to increase awareness of sexual misconduct and promote support and reporting resources.
Of the 218 reports of prohibited conduct, 92 were concerns about sexual assault, followed by 62 about sexual harassment, 35 about stalking, 23 about intimate partner violence, nine about gender-based harassment and 15 that were categorized as “other.”
Eighty-two of the 218 were determined not to fall within the scope of the university’s policy. Examples of reports that fall outside the policy include:
• Reports of behavior that, even if proven, would not constitute prohibited conduct.
• Reports of behavior committed by an individual unaffiliated with the university.
• The person reported to have experienced the behavior informs OIE that they have not experienced any unwelcomed conduct.
Of the 136 reports of prohibited conduct that fell within the policy, 111 were cases in which the claimant did not wish for an investigation to occur. Such cases are considered by a review panel consisting of university faculty and staff who have specific expertise to offer advice to the Title IX Coordinator on the appropriate response by the university.
Of those 111 reports, 108 were closed, one resulted in other action being taken to address underlying concerns and two matters proceeded to investigation. Generally, cases that proceed to investigation through the review panel involve a campus safety concern.
Through the overall 28 investigations, representing 32 potential policy violations, OIE determined that there was sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that eight policy violations occurred (five sexual assaults, two stalking and one violation of interim measures), representing eight cases. Four investigations were pending at the time data was collected for this report.
When a respondent is found to have violated the policy, the university takes action designed to eliminate the prohibited conduct, prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects. Sanctions issued in the past year included educational measures, employment restriction, no-contact sanction, disciplinary probation, suspension and expulsion.
The report also provides detail on other various actions the university may take in response to reports of policy violations, which may include:
• Providing confidential support and other resources to all parties involved.
• Taking interim measures to provide for the safety and well-being of the parties involved, including separation in academic and living situations.
• Offering the opportunity to appeal the investigation findings or sanctions.
The university encourages all members of the campus community to report concerns of prohibited conduct. OIE follows up on each report received to determine appropriate next steps.
Concerns can be reported directly to the Title IX coordinator via email, phone, in person or online.
Faculty, staff and students also may report information to the U-M Police Department or choose to share information confidentially with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center.