Schirin Rangnick

While the biannual Title IX Report recorded the highest-ever number of complaints, this term also reported a record high number of sexual harassment complaints from faculty members in recent history.

The semiannual report provides data on sexual misconduct — including sexual assault, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment and stalking – across the University, including complaints filed by students, postdoctorates, staff members, faculty members, Yale affiliates and non-Yale individuals. Three faculty members reported other members of the faculty for sexual harassment, and one faculty complainant filed a claim against a staff member. The four total complaints from the recent fall term – July 1 to Dec. 31, 2018 – mark an increase from past semesters, with the second highest total being three over the last four terms.

These four were just 6 percent of the total 63 complaints of sexual harassment during the period. Meanwhile, sexual harassment complaints against faculty members saw lower numbers than those of recent terms. Thirteen faculty members were the subjects of sexual harassment complaints – three from Yale college students, three from graduate and professional students, three from staff members and three from other faculty members. The past two reports from the 2017–2018 academic school year each cited 19 sexual harassment complaints against faculty members.

Still, linguistics professor and chair of the Women’s Faculty Forum Claire Bowern said there has been an increase in the number of such reports for two years, though the numbers fluctuate.

“Even if there are only a few people who are engaging in misconduct, harassment is an issue for all of us,” Bowern said. “For people who are the recipients of it, for the people indirectly affected – who have to accommodate the behavior – for the dysfunctional working environments that such behavior creates and for others who don’t condone it but don’t feel they have the power to stop it.”

Bowern said people tend to underreport sexual misconduct complaints, and the WFF has discussed the possibility of pressuring the University to withhold academic honors from individuals found in violation of University misconduct policies. Specifically, she cited the essay prize that was named in honor of Roberto González Echevarría, professor of Spanish and Portuguese, after he had been accused of sexual harassment.

According to Assistant Provost Jason Killheffer, the Title IX Office acknowledges that sexual misconduct is probably more prevalent than the number of reported cases show. Still, he hopes to increase awareness of available resources in order to increase reporting rates of misconduct.

In an email to the News, he added that the number of complaints fluctuates.

“It is very difficult, if not impossible, to derive trends except broad ones from the information provided in the semiannual reports,” Killheffer said. “While we’ve been able to comment on the increases in total complaints over several years, we cannot draw conclusions about short-term fluctuations in reporting from one semester to the next. One important goal of publishing these reports is to make all members of the community — faculty members, students and staff — aware of resources they can use and options they can pursue if they experience sexual misconduct.”

Emily Erikson, assistant professor of sociology and a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate, said she did not interpret the fluctuations between the small numbers as indicative of trends. Still, she added that people will feel more comfortable coming forward with complaints in secure environments. Erikson said people’s willingness to report could be a positive sign, adding that she did not believe sexual harassment rates were higher among Yale faculty than in other populations.

The most recent Title IX report cited 160 complaints of sexual misconduct.

Carly Wanna |