The initial annual report issued under the university’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct by Students provides a detailed picture of sexual misconduct allegations, investigations and sanctions at U-M during the 2014 fiscal year.
The report, issued by the university’s Office for Institutional Equity, provides greater insight into the numbers of complaints addressed by the university, how those complaints are handled and what happens before, during and after a sexual misconduct investigation.
For the first time the report details case-by-case outcomes of all investigations carried out by OIE under the direction of the university’s Title IX coordinator.
“In putting this report together, we have tried to balance the educational benefit of knowing as much as appropriate about these matters, while at the same time respecting the privacy of those involved,” says Anthony Walesby, associate vice provost for academic and faculty affairs and senior director of OIE, who also serves as the university’s Title IX coordinator.
The overall number of sexual misconduct reports, as addressed under the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, increased from 86 the previous year to 129 in 2013-14. Of those 129 reports, just more than half (68) were concerns about sexual assault, followed by 34 that involved concerns about sexual harassment, 18 that involved stalking, two involving retaliation, and 11 that were categorized as “other.”
Of the 129 reports, 58 were determined not to fall within the scope of the university’s policy. Investigations were launched in response to 23 reports. Another 48 reports went to the review panel and four of those matters proceeded to investigation, resulting in a total of 27 investigations.
Sanctions were issued in seven cases. The sanctioning and appeals process is still underway in four cases and those cases could result in sanctions.
The report focuses specifically on sexual misconduct to provide greater detail on the various actions the university takes in response to complaints, 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.
• Review by a panel of faculty and staff that offers varying perspectives and advice to the Title IX coordinator.
• Conducting an investigation, producing a report of its findings and issuing sanctions.
• Offering the opportunity to appeal the investigation findings or sanctions.
An investigation occurs when sexual misconduct has been reported and there is sufficient information available to proceed, such as the respondent is identified and the complainant is willing to be involved in an investigation or identified as having come forward with a complaint. In the event the complainant is not willing to participate, a report can move to investigation following the recommendation of the review panel and approval of the Title IX coordinator.
The university uses the “preponderance of the evidence” standard set forth in the policy, and consistent with guidance to all universities from the U.S. Department of Education.
Under this standard, individuals are presumed not to have engaged in the alleged conduct unless a “preponderance of the evidence” supports a finding that the conduct occurred. This “preponderance of the evidence” standard requires that the evidence supporting each finding be more convincing than the evidence offered in opposition to it.
After OIE reaches a conclusion as to whether the policy has been violated, it issues an investigation report that is forwarded to the Office of Student Conflict Resolution to handle the sanctioning and appeals processes.
Sanctions and appeals
The university typically imposes multiple sanctions on a student who is found responsible for violating the policy. The sanctions are designed to eliminate the sexual misconduct, prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects.
Sanctions may include permanent separation from the university, temporary separation, disciplinary probation, a no-contact directive, educational measures and notification to another institution.
“Both parties have an opportunity to provide input regarding the sanctions they believe will most appropriately serve those objectives,” says Stacy Vander Velde, OSCR associate director.
The university encourages all members of the campus community to report concerns of sexual misconduct. OIE follows up on each report received to determine appropriate next steps.
“We encourage reporting 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 us to provide resources and support for those who raise concerns,” Walesby says.
Sexual misconduct concerns can be reported directly to the Title IX coordinator via email, phone, in person or online.
In previous years, the university’s sexual misconduct data was reported in a broader sense as a part of the annual report from the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.