U-M releases annual report on sexual, gender-based misconduct

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Reports of sexual and gender-based misconduct on the Ann Arbor campus in fiscal year 2021 increased slightly, as did the number of investigations conducted by the university, according to the annual report by U-M’s Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office.

The report, released March 17, captures the university’s response to the 530 total reports of possible sexual and gender-based misconduct, and how those matters were addressed between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. This represents an increase from the 499 reports received the previous fiscal year.

U-M combined the matters involving students, faculty, staff and third parties into a single annual report for the Ann Arbor campus. That information previously was shared in two reports.

“It is critical for the community to have ready access to comprehensive, accurate information about the university’s procedures for addressing sexual and gender-based misconduct, and specifically about the institutional response to matters previously reported,” said Elizabeth Seney, Title IX coordinator.

Seney said this year’s report contains much of the same data that past reports have included, but also highlights some of the information that is most asked about, discussed or, in some cases, misunderstood.

REPORTING PROCESS TERMS
  • Complainant: Person reported to have experienced misconduct
  • Respondent: Person reported to have engaged in misconduct

U-M replaced its interim sexual and gender-based misconduct policy and its related procedures Oct. 1, 2021, and now has one overarching policy that applies to the entire university community on all three campuses. Separate procedures for students and employees also were updated at that time.

Most of the matters included in the FY ’21 annual report were addressed under the interim policy and its related procedures.

Among the 530 misconduct reports, 100 involved multiple types of allegations and in total included:

  • 214 reports of sexual harassment.
  • 119 reports of sexual assault.
  • 82 reports of sex and gender-based discrimination.
  • 64 reports of sex and gender-based harassment.
  • 44 reports of stalking.
  • 44 reports of intimate partner violence.
  • 31 reports of unspecified sexual or gender-based misconduct without sufficient information to identify the potential policy violations.
  • 23 reports of retaliation.
  • 16 reports of sexual exploitation.
  • Three reports of violation of supportive measures.

Of the cases listed above, 14 also fell within the definition of Title IX misconduct, which means the alleged behavior fell within a specific definition of sexual harassment and reportedly occurred under specific circumstances, set forth in the federal Title IX regulations as amended in 2020.

The university responded to all 530 reports received, which included:

  • 136 reports involving alleged conduct of a student and were addressed under the student procedures.
  • 189 reports involving alleged conduct of a staff member and were addressed under the employee procedures.
  • 65 reports involving alleged conduct of a faculty member and were addressed under the employee procedures.
  • 92 reports involving alleged conduct of a third party and were addressed under the employee procedures (48 involved conduct with a connection to the university environment; 44 involved no affiliation with the university except for the complainants’ affiliation with the university).
  • 45 reports involving reports that did not contain sufficient information whether the affiliation was to the university.
  • Three reports raising concerns more generally regarding the university’s policies or practices and did not include a specific, identified individual.

The ECRT Office is charged with conducting an initial assessment and outreach after a report is submitted. Staff members are trained to work with individuals who report misconduct and have knowledge about on- and off-campus resources, support services and resolution options.

Individuals may request a variety of formal or informal university actions to address their concerns. A complainant may request a formal resolution pathway such as an investigative or adaptable resolution — voluntarily entered into by all participating parties and approved by the Title IX coordinator — by filing a formal complaint.

In all instances, the Title IX coordinator assesses the available information about a concern to determine whether other action is possible and appropriate to address the concern, even if a formal resolution process is not requested, appropriate or possible.

Within the 530 reports, 46 involved a formal complaint or complaints filed by a complainant to initiate a formal resolution process.

If a report is submitted anonymously without complainant information, ECRT is limited in its ability to follow up, but will seek to use any information that is available in the report to take steps to both address the reported concern and seek to identify supportive measures for potentially affected parties.

A formal investigation is one of many actions that may be requested to address a concern, as some complainants do not wish to pursue an investigation and ECRT addressed concerns even if they do not rise to the level of a policy violation where an investigation is appropriate.

ECRT conducted 59 investigations during the fiscal year:

  • 46 of the investigations were initiated by a formal complaint filed by a complainant, while 10 were not requested by a complainant but ECRT determined a formal investigation process was possible and necessary.
  • 14 of the investigations were conducted under the interim student procedures; 11 of those had been completed, two were closed due to lack of participation after the investigation was opened, and one was proceeding at the time data was gathered for the report.
  • In eight of the matters involving student respondents, the use of adaptable resolution was requested, agreed upon by the participating parties, and approved by the Title IX coordinator.
  • 12 of the investigations were conducted under the interim employee procedures Title IX Misconduct Process, which is used when an investigation involves one or more allegations that may constitute Title IX misconduct. Of the 12 investigations, 10 have been completed with a determination regarding responsibility, one investigation was closed, and one was proceeding at the time the data for the report was gathered.
  • 33 investigations were conducted under the interim employee procedures Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Process. Of the 33 investigations, 31 have been completed with a determination regarding responsibility, and two investigations were closed and the complaint dismissed or withdrawn — one in which the complaint was withdrawn by the complainants following a legal settlement, and one in which the complainant had not filed a formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator filed a formal complaint to open the investigation, and the respondent’s employment ended prior to completion of the investigation process, without eligibility to return to future employment at U-M.
  • The remaining matters — those in which a formal resolution process was not requested or not possible — were addressed through a variety of steps, which included supportive measures, contact restrictions and individual or group educational efforts.

When the respondent is a student, it generally is not legally permissible or possible for the university to proceed with an investigative resolution to reach a finding of a violation without the complainant’s participation in a hearing.

When a respondent is found to have violated the policy, the university acts to eliminate the prohibited conduct, prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects. Sanctions issued in the past year include educational measures, enrollment restriction, employment restriction, no-contact sanction, disciplinary probation, transcript notation, suspension and expulsion.

In each matter in which an investigation or adaptable resolution did not occur, individuals did have an affiliation to the university, chose not to participate with the investigation, key information was missing, or the alleged conduct did not violate the policy.

“I hope that the information in this report contributes to meaningful awareness of these issues and of the options and resources available to address such concerns and support members of our community,” Seney said.

Reports made to ECRT regarding the late Robert Anderson were forwarded directly to the law firm WilmerHale for an independent investigation. WilmerHale released a report in May 2021.

The university encourages reporting of sexual misconduct because it allows the university to provide for the safety and well-being of both individual community members and the overall campus community. It also allows the university to provide resources and support for those affected by the reported misconduct.

A report may be made by anyone, including those who have experienced, witnessed, heard about, or otherwise has knowledge of possible sexual misconduct, and by university employees with reporting obligations.

Individuals can report a concern via an online form on the sexual and gender-based misconduct website, by email at ecrtoffice@umich.edu, by phone at 734-763-0235 or in-person at the Administrative Services Building, Room 2075.

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