Yale Daily News

The University’s Title IX office has fallen more than a year behind schedule in releasing its semiannual reports on sexual misconduct at Yale. But officials said that the next  University Title IX report will be out this month.

In 2012, under the leadership of Stephanie Spangler, previous Title IX coordinator and current University COVID-19 coordinator, Yale began publishing semiannual Title IX reports. These documents detail all reported complaints of sexual misconduct on campus, providing statistical data and descriptive summaries of the complaints received and the actions taken. Typically, the reports are published in the early fall semester — around August or September — and late winter – around February or March. The fall reports summarize complaints filed between January and June of the same calendar year, while the winter report details those filed between July and December of the preceding year. 

The latest report, however, was published on March 22, 2021 and detailed the period between January and June 2020 — a period that typically would have been reported in August or September 2020. Now, almost a year later, the Title IX office is three reporting periods behind schedule, meaning there has been no report detailing complaints filed after June 2020.

According to Elizabeth Conklin, University Title IX Coordinator and associate vice president for equity, access and belonging, and Jason Killheffer, deputy Title IX Coordinator and who also serves as an assistant provost, these delays were wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic and staff transitions. They said that the next report is slated for publication this month, but did not specify what period it would cover.

“We are preparing to release the next report this month,” Title IX Coordinator Elizabeth Conklin and Senior Deputy Title IX Coordinator Jason Killheffer wrote in a joint statement to the News. “We also are evaluating reporting and look forward to continuing to provide information that best helps our community understand our Title IX processes and resources.”

Previous reports, of which there are 18 in total, all include a foreword by Spangler. The next report will be the first one conducted under the leadership of Conklin, who on Jan. 1 stepped into the role of Title IX coordinator.

In an email to the News, Spangler wrote that though the reports were delayed due to pandemic-related factors, the Title IX office continued to respond to complaints during that time and continues to provide resources and support for those who need them.

“During the pandemic, our primary, and most important focus, has been to make sure that our procedures and resources remain available to all members of [the] community,”  Spangler said. “And to understand how the unique restrictions and anxieties associated with the pandemic affected individuals’ experiences of sexual misconduct and needs for support and accommodation.” 

During the pandemic, Yale’s Title IX team was also working to revise its formal procedures due to new federal regulations that took effect in August 2020, Spangler added. Yale lobbied significantly against the new regulations, which were enacted by the Trump administration’s Department of Education and faced significant pushback for narrowing the definition of sexual misconduct and limiting a school’s obligation to investigate only complaints pertaining to an on-campus or school-related offense — as opposed to also considering off-campus violations.

The reporting delays first began in the spring of 2020. Instead of keeping in line with its previous schedule and reporting in March, the Title IX office released its report on complaints filed between July and December of 2019 in June of 2020. March 2020 also marks the month in which the University extended online learning for the rest of the semester due to COVID-19.

But the following report, and only report since, did not come until nearly a year later, in March 2021.

Yale’s semiannual Title IX reports were first motivated by recommendations made in a 2011 report from a University advisory committee on campus climate. 

In response, former University President Richard Levin issued a letter to the community comitting to a number of initiatives concerning University measures to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct. These measures included establishing the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct (UWC) and assigning a University official with the responsibility of ensuring University compliance with Title IX directives. Additionally, Levin’s letter decreed that a University official — formerly Spangler, now Conklin — would publish a report detailing sexual misconduct complaints each semester, with a section designated for an action report from the UWC.

“We began publishing the semi-annual reports of complaints of sexual misconduct in 2012 when many of our programs to address sexual misconduct had been newly created or expanded,” Spangler wrote to the News. “Our intention was to provide a way for the community to learn more about these programs, and more specifically, to understand how members of our community who had been impacted by sexual misconduct might access procedures to address complaints and resources to provide support and accommodations.”

Spangler added that the reports were also intended to spark discussion about Title IX programs at Yale across the student body and community at large. In turn, they prompted the formation of additional methods to seek community input and engagement, such as Title IX advisory boards across Yale College as well as the graduate schools.

Miette Maoulidi ’25, a member of the Undergraduate Student Title IX Advisory Board, said she thinks guidance on how to file a complaint of sexual misconduct — which is included in Yale’s reports — should be shared more widely with all students.

“Along with providing data on sexual misconduct on campus, the semi-annual Title IX reports provide information on the process of reporting sexual misconduct and the possible outcomes of reporting misconduct,” Maoulidi wrote in an email. “This information was taught to Title IX representatives in introductory meetings. I think that this information should be highlighted to students during the mandatory workshops on consent that are held at the beginning of the year.”

Maoulidi noted that, per the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), half of college sexual assaults take place within the first few months of the school year. As such, she said it is “crucial” for students to understand the process of reporting sexual misconduct during that time. She noted that her views are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the board as a whole.

With respect to the current delay in report release, Spangler emphasized that the pandemic did not serve to reduce Yale’s “commitment to being transparent about our procedures and programs.” She told the News that she “strongly support[s]” Conklin as she works to “sustain that commitment” from here on out.

Title IX was passed in the United States Congress as part of a set of education-related amendments in 1972. 

TIGERLILY HOPSON
Tigerlily Hopson covers diversity and inclusion at Yale. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, she is a first year in Berkeley majoring in English.
ANIKA SETH
Anika Seth writes about STEM at Yale, including new programs and investments, and works on the production team. Originally from the D.C. Metro area, Anika is a first-year in Branford College double majoring in biomedical engineering and women's, gender and sexuality studies.