This story has been updated to reflect the version published in print on Aug. 22, 2014.
One year after the University’s fourth biannual Report of Complaints of Sexual Misconduct prompted criticism from the Yale community for insufficiently punishing perpetrators of sexual assault, the latest report — posted on August 5th on the Provost’s Office website — documents two expulsions related to sexual misconduct.
The two incidents, in which male respondents were found to have engaged in sexual intercourse without a female complainant’s consent, were investigated by the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct. The report also included 64 new complaints of sexual misconduct brought to Yale’s attention between Jan. 1 and June 30. In the previous reporting period, between July 1 and Dec. 31 in 2013, 70 complaints were reported. Aside from one expulsion in 2012 and several temporary suspensions, the cases in previous reports were criticized for largely being resolved through written reprimands, with achange.org petition receiving nearly 1,000 signatures in support of stronger administrative action against sexual misconduct.
But though the number of new misconduct complaints decreased, 29 complaints of sexual assault were made in the latest period — a substantial increase from the four to 14 complaints documented in previous reports. These assaults are defined by the University as “any kind of nonconsensual sexual activity.”
University Title IX Coordinator Stephanie Spangler reiterated that while it is possible that the larger number of reported assaults is due to a higher incidence rate, it could also simply mean students are becoming more willing to report or seek help from the administration.
“Regardless of the reasons for the increase in these complaints, we are encouraged that individuals are bringing them to the University’s attention and utilizing the University’s resources and review processes to address them,” Spangler wrote in her introduction to the report.
Aaron Berman ’16, a Communication and Consent Educator, said there is no way to tell if sexual misconduct is occurring at a higher frequency or if students are simply more willing to report it than before. He added that he believes the series of videos produced and released by the CCEs and UWC earlier in the year may have made students more aware of reporting procedures and willing to seek help from the University.
Spangler, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Melanie Boyd ’90 and UWC Chair David Post — who replaced Michael Della Rocca on July 1 — declined to comment on specific cases, including the two student expulsions. They also declined to comment on the circumstances that may lead to expulsion following a case of sexual misconduct. Only one other student, in 2012, has been expelled for sexual misconduct since the reports began publication. The student in that case was found to have committed intimate partner violence against the complainant, as well as being a repeat offender.
Yale published eight hypothetical scenarios last September detailing what would happen in cases of sexual misconduct. Four of the scenarios — which contain lack of consent, withdrawn consent, lack of sustained consent and incapacitation — end in the expulsion, or the possibility of expulsion, of the offender.
Berman said he does not believe the more severe punishments to be the University’s response to prior media criticisms.
“[The expulsions demonstrate] that the University is willing to hand down the punishment of expulsion if the circumstances require it,” Berman said. “If the UWC finds sufficient evidence to expel a student, they won’t hesitate to do so.”
Daniel Dangaran ’14, a freshman counselor and former CCE, said in an email that based on what he was taught during his CCE training, when an investigation finds evidence to support a sexual misconduct complaint, expulsion is always the first possible punishment discussed. However, he said that the previous lack of expulsions made the 2012 case seem like an outlier and not consistent with the promised policy.
He said the two recent expulsions reassured him that the system is working as it should, though he added that not all complainants want the respondents to be considered for expulsion.
“If I have conversations this year with friends or freshmen who are considering filing a formal report, my confidence in expressing the authenticity of the UWC process has been bolstered,” Dangaran said.
Corey Malone-Smolla ’16, also a CCE, said the expulsions are encouraging, as they show that disciplinary committees do not hesitate to severely punish those found guilty of sexual assault. Still, she said it is equally important for the conversations surrounding sexual misconduct to focus on prevention as well as punishment.
The report lists 18 new cases as “pending,” some of which, as explained in Spangler’s introduction, are unresolved because they were filed toward the end of the reporting period.
Della Rocca could not be reached for comment. Post — who has been a member of the UWC for two years and said he had a hand in assembling the report despite the recent transition in roles — said in an email that Yale is the only university he knows of that publishes a comprehensive report of this kind. It is a “testament to the University’s resolve to eliminate sexual misconduct and its commitment to transparency in addressing sexual misconduct,” he said.
Spangler emphasized in the report that Yale is prioritizing transparency and campus understanding of issues related to sexual misconduct, pointing specifically to a new guide that compiles information about resources, complaint procedures and prevention programs.
“We produced the new guide in an attempt to consolidate and update information about those initiatives so that students, faculty and staff could find what they need to know about our programs and resources easily and in one place,” she told the News. “The information in the guide is also consistent with requirements in recently enacted state and federal legislation.”
The guide was a collaborative effort between several groups including the Title IX office, the Yale College Dean’s Office, Yale Police and some student organizations, Boyd said in an email. The guide will be distributed in hard copy at orientation events, training events and informational programs for students, faculty and staff this year. Dangaran said he believes the guide will be useful for training the freshmen that he advises as a freshman counselor on how to successfully prevent and respond to sexual misconduct as a community. Furthermore, he believes it will help students understand the University’s definitions relating to sexual misconduct so that they can more confidently report a complaint whenever they find it necessary.
The previous report, which documented 70 cases, included the largest number of sexual misconduct cases in a single half-year since the report’s first publication.