Yale University received a record-high number of complaints during the first six months of this year, reflecting a steep increase over the same period in 2017
According to the Provost’s report, there were 154 complaints of sexual misconduct between Jan. 1 and July 1 — an 87.8 increase over the same period in 2017 when 82 complaints were received.
The number was substantially higher than the 124 complaints reported in the previous six months of 2017 from July 1-Dec. 31.
University Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler released the report to the Yale community this week, writing in its introduction: “While it is impossible to know with certainty the reasons for the sustained increase in reported complaints, it is my hope that it reflects, at least in large part, a growing awareness of the ways in which Yale’s resources can be helpful in addressing instances of sexual misconduct...’
“I cannot overemphasize the importance of community engagement as we strive to prevent and address sexual misconduct at Yale.”
The complaints were filed during a semester when the national #MeToo movement had raised awareness about sexual assault to new levels, with almost every month bringing fresh allegations from celebrities of how they had been sexually assaulted or harassed.
The report includes 65 complaints of sexual assault, 63 of sexual harassment, four of intimate partner violence, seven of stalking and 15 categorized as “other.”
The report notes that complaints are put in general categories that encompass broad ranges of behavior.
For instance, it says, Yale defines “sexual assault” as “any kind of nonconsensual sexual contact, including rape, groping or any other nonconsensual sexual touching.”
Women filed 138 of the complaints, men filed 7, and the remainder were filed by people with a gender identity of “other” or an unidentified gender.
The report contains brief descriptions of the complaint and how it was handled, with some pending. In some cases the university found sufficient evidence to support the allegation, while in others it did not.
In one case, a Yale student alleged that another had engaged in “sexual penetration without consent and violated the noncontact order in place ...”
The accused student withdrew from college with disciplinary charges pending, the report said, and is “ineligible for reinstatement, re-enrollment, or a Yale College degree until the case has been adjudicated” by Yale’s committee on sexual misconduct.
In another case, a Yale student alleged that a faculty member engaged in sexual harassment. The university found evidence to support the allegation and the accused faculty member left the university with disciplinary charges pending. The report said the accused faculty member is ineligible for rehire and is permanently banned from campus.
The report was released in a week when U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is working on policies on campus sexual misconduct.
The New York Times reported that DeVos is preparing policies that would “bolster the rights of students accused of assault, harassment, or rape, reduce liability for institutions of higher education and encourage schools to provide more support for victims.”
The Times said the new rules, which the newspaper said it obtained, “narrow the definition of sexual harassment, holding schools accountable only for formal complaints filed through proper authorities and for conduct said to have occurred on their campuses.”
The story said the new rules would also establish a “higher legal standard to determine whether schools improperly addressed complaints.”
Jennifer Widness, president of the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges, said it was too soon to comment on the rules because they haven’t been released.
“We will closely review the new proposed regulations once the U.S. Department of Education issues them,” Widness said in an email. “Further, our legislature passed ground-breaking legislation in partnership with higher education institutions in 2014 that remains fully intact and will not change with new regulations proposed by Secretary Devos.”
Deborah Colucci, Wesleyan University’s interim vice president for equity and inclusion and deputy Title IX coordinator, said the university “takes sexual misconduct very seriously; we have worked diligently to build a strong process and remain committed to responding to complaints in a manner that provides safety, privacy, and support to those affected.’ “We are closely following the discussions of proposed changes to federal guidelines,” but it is too early to say what their impact will be at Wesleyan.”
Tom Conroy, a spokesman for Yale, said in an email that until the federal Department of Education “issues any proposed rules or guidance, we wouldn’t have any comment.”