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The University released its semiannual report of Title IX violations on Monday, showing a decrease in the number of complaints from last year — likely due in part to largely remote work and instruction during the reporting period.
The report, which details allegations of sexual misconduct brought forward between Jan. 1, 2020, and June 30, 2020, included 94 complaints — a 27 percent decrease from the 129 complaints reported between July and December 2019. The University saw the lowest number of complaints it has since spring of 2017.
Yale College students made the majority of sexual assault complaints, with 22 out of 30, and a plurality of harassment reports, with 17 of 44. National surveys suggest that these numbers underestimate the true number of incidents at Yale, given that many victims do not come forward for a variety of reasons.
“With regard to the number of complaints brought to our attention in spring of 2020 — the time period covered in the most recent report — I can only speculate that the move to remote activity required by pandemic may have had an effect,” University Title IX Coordinator Stephanie Spangler wrote in an email to the News. “That said, all of our support resources and complaint processes remained available throughout the pandemic to assist any member of our community who was impacted by sexual misconduct.”
The complaints in this most recent report were broken down by category, with sexual harassment accounting for 47 percent and sexual assault accounting for 32 percent of complaints. Stalking, intimate partner violence and other violations accounted for the remaining complaints. Of the complainants who reported their gender, seventy-five percent of complaints were brought by people who identified as female.
Most of the sexual assault complaints were made by Yale College students, and the report listed 22 undergraduate complainants and 14 respondents, or subjects of complaints. Some complainants listed multiple incidents.
Sexual harassment complaints were split across different constituencies and were reported by 17 Yale College students, 11 graduate and professional students, nine staff and two faculty members.
“While the total number of complaints brought forward during this period was somewhat lower than most recent prior reporting periods, it is clear that experiences of sexual misconduct are not limited to the confines of our physical campus and that individuals can come forward from remote locations to use our resources and processes,” the report reads.
The semiannual report is intended to make the community aware of the University’s resources and processes to address sexual misconduct and to provide a general sense of the types of complaints that the Title IX Office receives, Spangler said.
The complaints are addressed by one of three bodies: the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, or UWC, the Title IX coordinators and the Yale Police Department. All misconduct reports brought to the YPD also get sent to a Title IX coordinator, and Title IX coordinators share all cases with the YPD.
The complainant can decide which of the three processes will address their complaint. Title IX coordinators do not conduct a formal hearing, while the UWC does. A formal complaint through the UWC involves an investigation led by an external fact-finder, a hearing, adjudication and potentially disciplinary sanctions.
Of the 30 new reports of sexual assault, the UWC handled one, according to UWC Chair Judith Krauss.
“When Yale transitioned to remote instruction in March, we were able to smoothly make the shift to all hearings being held remotely,” Krauss wrote in an email to the News, adding that the committee had already been using secure remote technology for some hearings prior to the pandemic.
Title IX coordinators handled 26 incidents of sexual assault, two of intimate partner violence, 39 of sexual harassment, three of stalking and 11 other incidents, according to the report.
When the Title IX Office handles complaints, a Title IX coordinator generally interviews the complainant, respondent and other people with pertinent knowledge. They also consult relevant documents. Afterwards, the coordinator determines whether there was a violation of University policy and if any action should be taken.
The YPD, which investigates incidents of potential criminal activity, reviewed three cases of sexual assault, two of intimate partner violence, five of sexual harassment and two of stalking.
Most of the complaints pursued through the YPD resulted in the YPD providing information on safety and victim services. A sensitive crimes and support coordinator assists victims, coordinates safety measures and helps liaison with victims’ assistance services.
In two instances, the YPD arrested people not affiliated with Yale, and it also issued one warning to a graduate or professional student.
Generally, the person who comes forward with a complaint decides whether to pursue disciplinary action for the respondent through a University investigation — the University only takes action independently of the wishes of the complainant if there are safety risks for an individual or the community. A total of 45 out of 94 complainants chose not to pursue any action.
For those who choose to pursue action, outcomes of Title IX complaints can be complainant- or respondent-focused. For complainant-focused outcomes, the two parties can have a no-contact agreement, and the complainant can receive academic or workplace accommodations.
For respondent-focused outcomes, respondents usually receive education around issues of consent and misconduct.
Sixteen respondents received counseling on appropriate conduct. Another five received recommended or required training. A small fraction of respondents were subjected to disciplinary action.
For student respondents, most non-consensual sexual activity resulted in suspension for between one and four terms or probation until graduation, as well as a requirement to complete training on consent.
Eight faculty members were respondents in harassment complaints. As a result, all eight were counseled on appropriate behavior and given training on consent or workplace conduct, according to the report. Three faculty were removed from leadership positions, two graduate or professional students voluntarily left the University and one was suspended by the UWC. One staff member was terminated.
In 2019, Yale participated in an Association of American Universities survey on campus climates around sexual assault and misconduct. The survey found that most victims did not report the assault to campus resources or the police because they did not think it was serious enough to merit further action. About 23,500 students, 13 percent of the more than 180,000 students who responded to the survey, reported non-consensual sexual activity.
The UWC was established in July 2011.
Julia Bialek contributed reporting.
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