Yale received 82 complaints of sexual misconduct between Jan. 1 and June 30 this year, up just one from the last six-month reporting period, according to the University’s semi-annual report from the Office of the Provost.
University Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler released the report in a University-wide email on Aug. 17. The Office of the Provost has released reports twice a year since January 2012.
“The semi-annual publication … is but one of a number of initiatives the University has put in place to uphold that commitment and to engage all of us in building a culture of respect and inclusion,” Spangler wrote in the report’s introduction. “More specifically, the report is intended to raise the community’s awareness about the complaints that are brought forward to University officials and the procedures and resources available to address those complaints.”
Of the 82 complaints, 27 were classified as sexual assault and 39 as sexual harassment. The remaining 16 were filed under intimate partner violence, stalking or “other.” Sixty-nine complaints were made to the office of the Title IX coordinator, nine to the Yale Police Department and four to the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct. Complaints brought before multiple venues were counted only once and were listed in the report under the venue that dealt most directly with the complaint.
In 2015, the Association of American Universities Sexual Climate survey found that 16.1 percent of Yale students had been victims of an attempted or completed sexual assault since arriving on campus, and many faced barriers to reporting. University President Peter Salovey called the figures “extremely disturbing” and “counter to our most fundamental values.”
In the introduction to the most recent report, Spangler called the increase in the number of complaints brought before the University an “encouraging” trend. Many victims of sexual misconduct still do not report their experiences, but the Title IX office has been working to reduce barriers to reporting, according to the new report.
Steven Tian ’20, a member of last year’s Undergraduate Title IX Student Advisory Board, said that because the number of unreported sexual assault cases has increased nationwide, the student advisory boards have met multiple times throughout last year to discuss issues of improving transparency of Title IX procedures and making it easier to access information about Title IX protections.
With the help of the Title IX student advisory boards, Spangler told the News, her office redesigned the Sexual Misconduct Response and Prevention website to make it more informative and navigable. The Title IX office has restructured the website’s home page, provided more detailed information on issues like confidentiality and added a new section “on prevention efforts and community engagement opportunities.”
Many of the Title IX office’s reforms trace their origins back to feedback from former advisory board members and the University community at large, Spangler said.
“While I was a member of the board I felt that my voice was always respected and heard,” said Sarah Federman FES ’12 GRD ’17, who led the website redesign initiative. “In fact, it was through a conversation with another board member, Jenny Peek DIV ’17, who was working for the Provost’s Office over the summer, that the idea for a website redesign came up. We pitched the idea to Stephanie and her office, and they were incredibly receptive and supportive.”
The office has also worked on expanding the Bystander Intervention Training workshop -— a mandatory training program for sophomores — for graduate and professional schools, creating hypothetical scenarios tailored to specific campus communities, including academic departments and student organizations. More than 1,000 individuals have participated in the workshops over the past year, Spangler said.
But Helen Price ’18, co-director of Unite Against Sexual Assault Yale, said the University has played a role in discouraging survivors from reporting.
“I don’t think the report is reflective of the true rate of sexual assault at Yale, as many, if not most, of those who have been assaulted still choose not to report their assaults,” Price said. “Although there are potentially mitigating circumstances, it is always very troubling to see a pattern of Yale giving one-year suspensions and other similar penalties to students found guilty of rape by the UWC, and many of the survivors who have come to USAY for advice have named that as one of their reasons for not reporting.”
The Association of American Universities was founded in 1900.
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