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As Stanford works to address problem of sexual violence, new report provides further data

Town hall meeting with university's provost on Dec. 3 will cover campus sexual violence and the results from the Title IX report

Students walk in the Engineering Quad at Stanford University on June 7, 2019. File photo by Sinead Chang.

Stanford University responded to 279 reports of sexual harassment, sexual violence and gender discrimination in the 2018-19 academic year, up from 211 the year prior, according to an annual Title IX report released on Monday.

Stanford attributed the uptick in part to the addition of a new category in this year's report, gender discrimination, which accounted for 17 of the total incidents.

The third annual report includes information about sexual misconduct involving students, faculty and staff reported between Sept. 1, 2018 and Aug. 31, 2019. It illustrates how Stanford responds to, investigates and ultimately disciplines students and faculty found guilty of sexual harassment and violence over the course of a school year.

"Publishing the annual Title IX report is one of the ways we can hold ourselves accountable as a community," Provost Persis Drell said in an announcement. "Creating a campus culture free of sexual violence and all other unwanted sexual behavior is our goal, and reaching that goal will require the involvement of every member of the campus community."

Across different categories of allegations, women were most often those reporting the violence or misconduct and men were accused of it. Last year, the majority of all reported incidents across the university — 243 — resulted in a "non-investigation," meaning they were not formally investigated by the university. Interventions, or actions taken to address an allegation of an act that occurred but that didn't rise to the level of a formal policy violation or when a victim didn't want the university to conduct a full investigation, doubled from last year, from 49 to 102.

An introduction to the report acknowledges the report's own deficiencies: Given not all incidents are reported to the particular offices from which the data are drawn, or they are not reported at all, the data "are incomplete." The Title IX report doesn't include sexual harassment information from Stanford affiliates such as Stanford Health Care, campus child care facilities or Stanford Shopping Center.

The category with the most reports in 2018-19 was sexual harassment in the workplace or academic setting. This is defined as "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other visual, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to or rejection of the conduct will be a factor in academic or employment decisions or evaluations or in permission to participate in a university activity; or when the conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's academic or work performance or creating an intimidating or hostile environment."

The majority of people reporting workplace sexual harassment were female staff, followed by female graduate and undergraduate students.

Of 80 reports — up slightly from 76 in the 2017-18 year — the university formally investigated 18 of them. In 16 of those, Stanford found a policy violation, with consequences ranging from male faculty members being "separated" from the university to warning, counseling and "salary impact." More than half of the workplace/academic sexual harassment reports were not investigated. Thirty-three cases ended in interventions.

In 2018-19, there were 67 reports of student-on-student sexual harassment, up from 37 the prior school year. Most of them (55) ended without an investigation. Of six formal completed investigations, policy violations were found in two, resulting in Stanford banning a male visitor from campus and a man being removed from an unidentified program. One investigation included multiple people who made reports about the same person.

Reports of nonconsensual intercourse, or intercourse, penetration and oral sex without consent, remained relatively the same over the prior year: 26 in 2017-18 and 24 in 2018-19. Four cases were formally investigated, with two findings of policy violations that resulted in Stanford separating a male faculty member from the university and suspending an undergraduate man for five quarters, as well as requiring counseling. In 10 of the total reports, there was not enough information to move forward, according to Stanford.

There were 26 reports of nonconsensual touching (touching of private areas without consent) in 2018-19, eight of which were formally investigated.

Reports of both stalking (16) and relationship violence (18) increased from the 2017-18 academic year, with alleged stalking doubling in 2018-19.

The new category of gender discrimination or harassment is defined as actions so severe or pervasive as to create a hostile environment. Of 17 reports, 14 resulted in a non-investigation. There was one formal investigation, which ended in Stanford finding the accused male faculty member not responsible for the alleged conduct. The university used interventions in eight cases involving accused male faculty members, one male graduate student and a male staff member.

The report also includes data from Stanford's pilot Title IX process, which was launched in 2016. Two students were unanimously found responsible in 2018-19. One male undergraduate was expelled for relationship violence, though the report states that he received a degree for units earned prior to the reported misconduct. He is not eligible to complete coursework or enroll in programs at Stanford in the future, according to the report.

The other student, who a panel found responsible for sexual assault, was suspended for five quarters, required to stay away from the victim and receive "education." The case pre-dated Stanford's standard that any student found responsible for sexual assault by force or incapacitation be expelled, a policy adopted in 2016, the report states.

The report notes that changes to the pilot process are currently under review by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and that "further changes may be necessitated following the implementation of final Title IX regulations that will likely be issued by the federal government in final form in late 2019."

The Title IX report follows the October release of new campus climate survey data that showed nearly 40% of undergraduate women who have been at Stanford for four years have experienced some form of nonconsensual sexual contact.

In light of both reports, the university is "re-evaluating its current programs," Monday's announcement stated, including by having national experts come to campus during the winter quarter to review the offices within Institutional Equity & Access that provide support and respond to matters of sexual violence and harassment. These experts, whom the university has not identified, will bring recommendations for "improving the experiences of community members who have experienced or been accused of sexual violence or harassment," Stanford said.

Stanford is also further analyzing the campus climate survey results and plans to compare its data with peer institutions to "identify best practices."

Stanford's student government is sponsoring a town hall meeting with the provost to discuss campus sexual violence, including the results from the Title IX report, on Tuesday, Dec. 3 from 4-5:30 p.m. in Building 200-002.

Support related to sexual violence and additional information about resources and policies can be found on Stanford's Sexual Violence Support & Resources website.

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