Sexual assault reports drop at U-M

The number of sexual assaults reported to the University of Michigan dropped by 9% last school year, the school announced Tuesday morning.

The overall number of sexual misconduct reports to administrators decreased from 172 the previous year to 157 in 2015-16.

Of those 157 reports, the university conducted full-scale investigations into 18 of them. In those 18  full-scale investigations, the university found five violations of its sexual misconduct policy - three for sexual assault and two sexual harassment in four cases. There were three permanent expulsions from the university and one temporary expulsion of less than one year.

Of the 157 reports of sexual misconduct, just more than half (80) were concerns about sexual assault, followed by 49 that involved concerns about sexual harassment, 14 that involved stalking, one involving retaliation, and 19 that were categorized as "other."

"U-M encourages individuals to report misconduct to the university and, where appropriate, to law enforcement. We are deeply invested in addressing these issues and providing a fair and effective process," says Anthony Walesby, the university's Title IX coordinator, associate vice provost for academic and faculty affairs, and senior director of OIE, said in a release about the report.  "We also respect the decisions of individuals considering whether and how to report concerns. Our goal is for more students to feel increasingly comfortable coming forward and sharing what happened to them."

The decline in the number of reports to U-M administrators declining clashes with a pair of surveys conducted of U-M students.

In 2015, a survey of students on U-M's campus by the Association of American Universities found that roughly 77% of female U-M students never reported they were victims of nonconsensual sexual penetration by force. About 37% of those said they didn't think anything would have been done if they had reported the incident.

A separate U-M survey released earlier in 2015, showed that more than 20% of undergraduate females said they experienced nonconsensual sexual behavior in the past year. About 12% of female undergraduates said they experienced nonconsensual sexual penetration.

The university's response to sexual assault is under scrutiny in several areas. A male student, who was accused of sexual assault, found not to have violated the policy by a U-M investigator only to have that decision reversed by an appeals board and be tossed out of school has sued U-M over its handling of his case. The female student in the case, upset over the male student's suit, has filed a suit against the male student.

The federal Office of Civil Rights has also been investigating U-M for more than two years for its handling of sexual assault complaints. Earlier this summer, the Free Press reported U-M has pushed for delays in turning over documents and has sought to limit the scope of the investigation.

(2016 © Detroit Free Press)


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