January 21, 2016
Topic: Campus News
Reports of sexual misconduct increased in fiscal year 2015 while the number of investigations remained the same, according to the University of Michigan's Student Sexual Misconduct annual report.
The report, issued by the university's Office for Institutional Equity, provides insight into the numbers of complaints addressed by the university, how those complaints were handled and what happens before, during and after a sexual misconduct investigation.
The university also is in the process of revising its Student Sexual Misconduct Policy and expects to share the new policy later this semester.
This is the second year the university has detailed case-by-case outcomes of all student sexual misconduct investigations carried out by OIE under the direction of the university's Title IX coordinator.
"We are encouraged that the university's education efforts related to sexual misconduct are positively impacting students, faculty, and staff. We believe that the increase in reports is the result of enhanced awareness on campus of these issues and how to report concerns," says Anthony Walesby, associate vice provost for academic and faculty affairs and senior director of OIE. Walesby also serves as the university's Title IX coordinator.
The overall number of sexual misconduct reports, as addressed under the current Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, increased from 129 the previous year to 172 in 2014-15.
Of the 172 reports of sexual misconduct, just more than half (97) were concerns about sexual assault, followed by 43 that involved concerns about sexual harassment, 17 that involved stalking, seven involving retaliation, and 15 that were categorized as "other."
Of the 172 reports, 78 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 sexual misconduct.
• 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 unwelcome sexual conduct.
Another 66 reports went to the review panel, which occurs when the complainant declines to participate in an investigation. Of those reports, 55 were closed, nine resulted in other action taken to address underlying concerns, and two matters proceeded to investigation.
There were a total of 29 investigations in FY '15, which ended June 30, 2015.
Investigations concluded a total of 11 policy violations occurred, representing 10 cases. Sanctions were issued in seven of those cases. The sanctioning and appeals process is still underway in three remaining cases.
The report provides detail on the various actions the university may take in response to sexual misconduct 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 when there's a need to provide for the safety of the campus community.
After OIE completes its investigation and 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 are tailored to the specific circumstances of each case and may include permanent separation from the university, temporary separation, disciplinary probation, a no-contact directive, educational measures and notification to another institution.
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.
Sexual misconduct concerns can be reported directly to the Title IX coordinator via email, phone, in person or online.
Faculty, staff and students also can report information to the U-M Police Department or choose to share information confidentially with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center.