Student sexual misconduct reports up 33% at UM

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Reported cases of student sexual misconduct are up 33 percent at the University of Michigan, the university announced this week. 17 percent of them were investigated in 2014-15.

The reported total reached 172 in 2014-15, compared to 129 in 2013-14, but did include 78 reports “determined not to fall within the scope of the university’s policy,” according to UM.

Such reports include “behavior that, even if proven, would not constitute sexual misconduct,” “reports of behavior committed by an individual unaffiliated with the university,” and cases where “the person reported to have experienced the behavior informs [UM Office of Institutional Equity] that they have not experienced any unwelcome sexual conduct.”

Those represented 45 percent of reported cases.

Among those 78 reported incidents beyond the scope of university policy, 29 were sexual assaults, 25 were for sexual harassment, six were for stalking, seven were for retaliation, and 11 were for “other.”

The report was published Tuesday, and covered cases reported from July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015. A cover letter to the report attributes the increase in reported assaults to “enhanced awareness on campus of these issues and how to report concerns.”

By category, the 172 reported cases break down to 97 sexual assaults, 17 instances of stalking, 43 cases of sexual harassment, 7 cases of retaliation, and 15 “other.” Sexual assaults represented 56 percent of reported cases that year.

While stalking remained flat, year-over-year, reported cases of sexual assaults, sexual harassment, retaliation and “other” increased.

Some 66 reported cases, or 38 percent, were “brought to the review panel,” while 29, or 17 percent, were investigated, the report said.

Year-over-year, the same amount of cases were investigated, 29, while the number of cases brought to the review panel or under the category of “other” increased.

Review panel

“In those instances where the complainant declines to participate, requests confidentiality, and/or asks that the university not investigate the report, the matter is considered by a Review Panel consisting of university faculty and staff,” the report explains.

Of the 66 reported cases the review panel considered, 44 were for sexual assaults, 13 were for sexual harassment, eight were for stalking, and four were for “other.” The review panel didn’t consider any cases where retaliation was alleged. UM’s Title IX coordinator, who “determines appropriate next steps” after consultation with the review panel, closed 55 of those 66 cases, or 83 percent.

Cases get closed, the report explains, in instances where “the complainant may not have been able to (or may have chosen not to) identify the respondent, or there may not have been compelling justification to override the complainant’s request that the matter not be investigated.”

“Of the 94 reported incidents of sexual misconduct that fell under [university policy], there was sufficient information to conduct 29 investigations,” which is 31 percent of the time. Overall, only 17 percent of sexual misconduct cases reached the investigation stage.