Yale received a record number of complaints of sexual misconduct between Jan. 1 and June 30 this year, according to the University’s report from the Office of the Provost.
Over the six-month period, students submitted 154 complaints to the University’s Title IX Office, a roughly 20 percent increase from the 124 complaints in the previous reporting period. Students and administrators attributed the uptick to the #MeToo phenomenon, as well as growing awareness of Yale’s resources for handling sexual misconduct.
University Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler released the report in a University-wide email on Tuesday. Published semi-annually by the Office of the Provost since January 2012, the report includes statistical and descriptive summaries of the complaints, which are classified by complainant and respondent affiliation, gender configuration and the venue through which the complaint was addressed.
“Yale University is committed to creating and sustaining a community of inclusion and respect—where all members feel safe and supported as they pursue their academic, professional, and personal aspirations,” Spangler wrote in the report’s introduction. “The intention of the semi-annual reports, which have been published since January of 2012, is to provide the community with insight into Yale’s procedures and resources to address complaints of sexual misconduct and to engage the community in efforts to enhance and expand our response and prevention programs.”
Of the 154 complaints, 65 fell under the category of sexual assault and 63 under sexual harassment. The remaining 26 constituted intimate partner violence, stalking or “other” activities. Female students submitted 138 of the 154 complaints. Male students lodged sevenand students of “other gender identity” or unknown gender submitted the final nine. In addition, 129 complaints were made to the office of the Title IX coordinator, 15 to the Yale Police Department and 10 to the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct. Complaints filed to more than one of these departments were counted only once and were listed under the department that primarily addressed the complaint.
According to the Association of American Universities Sexual Climate survey conducted in 2015, 16.1 percent of Yalies had been victims of an attempted or completed sexual assault since arriving on campus. With multiple administrators expressing “dismay” and “distress” at the prevalence of sexual assault, the report also revealed that many students faced barriers to reporting.
In the introduction to the most recent report, Spangler attributed the sustained increase in the number of complaints to “a growing awareness of the ways in which Yale’s resources can be helpful in addressing instances of sexual misconduct.” In particular, in a statement to the News, Spangler said the student Title IX advisory boards have been “extremely active and valuable partners” in developing programs to prevent and address sexual misconduct.
Meghanlata Gupta ’20, a member of the undergraduate Title IX Student Advisory Board, said the board met multiple times last semester to discuss ways to make Yale’s resources more accessible. For example, it brainstormed ways to make the LiveSafe – a mobile application for communicating with Yale Police – more user-friendly, Gupta said.
While Gupta said she agreed with Spangler’s analysis of the increase in the number of complaints, she noted that “the number of sexual assaults is rising everywhere” and emphasized the importance of “recognizing rape culture.”
Natalie Schultz-Henry ’20 — a co-director of communications for Engender, a campus group pushing to make fraternities co-ed — said Spangler’s explanation was “reasonable,” but had a “positive spin on a complex situation.” For example, while the #MeToo movement has encouraged individuals to report their experiences with sexual misconduct, “this encouragement can be attributed more towards collective frustration and solidarity rather than trust in their employers to handle the complaints properly,” Schultz-Henry explained.
Schultz-Henry added that recent revelations of sexual misconduct at fraternities may have encouraged more students to report their cases.
“We’ve seen more coverage of fraternity-related sexual misconduct,” Schultz-Henry said. “When you see someone bravely reporting an experience of theirs similar to your own, you’re more likely to speak out about yours.”
This year, the Title IX office will gather more information about reporting patterns, community awareness and the overall prevalence of sexual misconduct for the second AAU Campus Sexual Climate Survey in spring 2019.
Serena Cho | firstname.lastname@example.org