By Claire Wang
On Tuesday morning, Provost Persis Drell released Stanford’s first Annual Title IX/Sexual Harassment Report. The 16-page document catalogues 190 reported incidents of sexual harassment, sexual violence and other unwanted sexual conduct involving students, staff and faculty over the previous academic year, including case outcomes but not revealing details.
The four-part report, which was prepared by the Office of Institutional Equity and Access, documents all complaints filed to Stanford between Sept. 1, 2016 and Aug. 31, 2017. Of the 190 reports filed, 58 allegations pertained to workplace sexual harassment and 33 were filed as “student setting” sexual harassment. There were 20 stalking reports filed and 29 “nonconsensual intercourse” reports filed.
“The report we are issuing today shows that prohibited sexual conduct happens throughout our community at Stanford,” Drell wrote in a statement announcing the release. “We all must join together as a community to put an end to this.”
Despite the prevalence of sexual misconduct that the data indicate, incidents of such misconduct on campus are likely underreported, Drell acknowledged.
“I believe the actual numbers of incidents of wrongful sexual conduct are probably larger than are being reported to us,” she wrote.
Drell said that the report will expand to include other data about sexual misconduct in its future iterations and invited community input on its contents.
The report categorizes cases by type of alleged conduct and by the University affiliation of complainants and respondents. It also includes summaries of case outcomes, including details on individuals who have been sanctioned for their conduct.
Additionally, the report includes updates on cases resolved via the pilot Student Title IX Process, which has been effective since 2016, operates on the “preponderance of the evidence” standard and requires unanimous three-person vote to find an alleged assailant responsible.
Drell added that the report does not divulge details about particular cases out of respect for affected individuals’ privacy.
Complainants overwhelmingly identified as female, while a majority of respondents identified as male. Furthermore, complainants were most often categorized as undergraduate students, graduate students or academic staff, while there was greater variation among University affiliation of respondents.
Last May, Drell released a progress report containing data on Title IX cases investigated by the University under the first 15 months of the pilot Student Title IX Process. The current report contains summaries of case outcomes, including those cases that were brought forward before Sept. 1, 2016 but were resolved within the timeframe of the past academic year.
These case outcomes address data for different types of misconduct, including “sexual harassment in the workplace or academic environment,” sexual harassment related to a student’s living environment, nonconsensual intercourse, nonconsensual touching, stalking, relationship violence, retaliation and violation of University directive.
Cases that were raised during the 2016-2017 timeframe that remained under investigation as of Aug. 31, 2017, will be addressed in next year’s report.
The report organized cases by type of misconduct. Within each type of misconduct, outcomes were classified into seven categories: formal investigation, University intervention, determination, inquiry, matters involving external party respondents, “no charge” and “not enough information to proceed.”
“Formal investigation” describes an official University review of allegations, while “University intervention” is described as “an action to address a concern without a formal investigation.” Reported consequences for alleged respondents found responsible included separation from the University, warnings and being “barred from further engagement with students,” among others.
The report cited a total of 58 formal investigations, with 32 of those resulting in findings of a policy violation. Some cases that involved non-hearing resolutions resulted in sanctions against the respondents but not an official finding of a policy violation.
The “no charge” outcome occurs when “a reasonable decision-maker or panel could not conclude by a preponderance of the evidence that a policy violation occurred” following a full investigation.
“Determination” is a decision by the University not to proceed with an investigation because an allegation, even if true, would not be a policy violation, and inquiry consists of a review of available information to decide whether a formal investigation is warranted. Three instances of determination were cited in the report.
While the University does not have direct disciplinary authority over matters involving “external party respondents,” or non-Stanford affiliates, it may issue a variety of consequences including campus bans and restricted access to campus programs. Stanford may also provide “safety planning,” such as housing changes or assistance obtaining a restraining order, to complainants. A total of 27 incidents in the report were classified as “matters involving external-party respondents.”
In seven instances of misconduct that involved respondents not affiliated with Stanford, Stanford “took action against the external party” through campus bans and other measures.
Case outcomes were labeled “not enough information to proceed” for reports that “lack detail and remain unverified despite attempts to contact the reported complainant.” Fifty-three cases were categorized under this label.
An ongoing project
In her letter to the campus community, Drell pointed to a number of new sexual harassment and violence prevention initiatives at Stanford, including a committee to address the controversial campus climate survey, a sophomore-oriented educational program on healthy relationships and the Office of Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse (SARA) Education & Response’s student ambassador program, among others.
She added that she expects the report “to become more robust in the coming years as [the University continues] evolving the ways in which [it collects] information.”
Specifically, she cited the Stanford community’s expressed interest in knowing more about the location of incidents of sexual misconduct experienced by individuals identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary and queer.
In its Feb. 13 meeting, the 19th Undergraduate Senate passed a resolution to improve University efforts to collect location data related to campus sexual assault.
According to Drell, the University is working to gather location data so it may be included in future reports.
Drell also emphasized transparency as a core element of the document’s substance and purpose.
“The goal is to provide the Stanford community with information to assess where we stand today and how the university responds to reported concerns of sexual harassment, sexual violence and other unwanted sexual conduct,” she said.
Contact Claire Wang at clwang32 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Courtney Douglas at ccd4 ‘at’ stanford.edu.