Reports of sexual assaults on U-M campus up 40%

ANN ARBOR — The University of Michigan saw a jump in the number of sexual assaults reported to internal campus investigators, show.

There were 97 reports of sexual assault reported from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015, the report shows. That’s an increase of more than 40 percent from the previous year, when 68 reports of sexual assault were reported. The data also shows an increase in sexual misconduct reports to the Office for Institutional Equity, which handles the investigations. Last school year, 172 incidents were reported, an increase from 129 the previous year.

“We believe that this increase is the result of enhanced awareness on campus of these issues and how to report concerns,” Anthony Walesby, associate vice provost for academic and faculty affairs and senior director of OIE, said in the report. “As such, we are encouraged that the University’s education efforts … are positively impacting students, faculty, and staff.”

These reports are separate from reports made to the university’s police force. At U-M, the police are brought into an investigation only if the sexual assault survivor specifically asks for them. At some other Michigan universities, the police are automatically involved as soon as a sexual assault is reported to any university official.

This is the second year the university has released statistics on their sexual misconduct investigations. No details of any of the investigations or complaints were released.

The release comes during a time when sexual assault and university’s responses are under greater scrutiny, not only at U-M, but across the state and nation. U-M is currently under investigation by the federal government about its handling of sexual assault reports.

In June 2015, U-M released a survey of its students that showed more than 20 percent of undergraduate female students at the University of Michigan say they experienced some sort of nonconsensual sexual behavior in the past year. About 12 percent of female undergraduates say they experienced nonconsensual sexual penetration. Less than 5 percent reported the incident to the university, saying they didn’t do so because they didn’t want to get the person responsible in trouble, they felt embarrassed or shamed, or they did not think U-M would do anything.

Of the 172 reports of sexual misconduct, 78 were determined not to be violations of the policy, 66 went to a review panel that could recommend further investigation and 29 went directly to the investigation phase.

Of the 29 that went straight to investigation, 16 involved claims of penetration.

Of those 29, 17 were found to have no violation, 10 were found to have violations and two investigations are still ongoing.

Once a report is made, the university can take a number of temporary accommodations. For example, in the report’s time period, the university moved housing assignments 11 times.

Once a violation has been found, the university can impose sanctions. This past school year, the university expelled three students permanently and suspended two students for less than a year.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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