UA lists Ti­tle IX as­sault re­ports

Cam­pus is linked to 53 com­plaints

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - ARKANSAS - JAIME ADAME

FAYETTEVILLE — An an­nual re­port pub­lished by the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayetteville shows the school’s Ti­tle IX of­fice re­viewed 53 com­plaints of sex­ual as­sault or non­con­sen­sual sex­ual con­tact in­volv­ing stu­dents in the 201718 aca­demic year.

Most cases did not re­sult in a de­ci­sion on stu­dent dis­ci­plinary ac­tion. Rea­sons for com­plaints not pro­ceed­ing in­cluded a lack of ev­i­dence or stu­dents de­cid­ing not to con­tinue with the cam­pus in­ves­ti­ga­tion process, the re­port states.

Five cases re­sulted in sanc­tions af­ter stu­dents were found re­spon­si­ble for con­duct vi­o­la­tions, while in two other cases stu­dents were found not re­spon­si­ble for mis­con­duct.

Ti­tle IX is the fed­eral law pro­hibit­ing sex-based dis­crim­i­na­tion at schools re­ceiv­ing fed­eral money. UA and other schools un­der Ti­tle IX re­view re­ports of both sex­ual as­sault and ha­rass­ment, do­ing so sep­a­rately from any po­ten­tial po­lice in­volve­ment.

“What Ti­tle IX obli-

gates in­sti­tu­tions to do is be re­spon­sive and take steps to prevent and ad­dress these prob­lems,” said Kevin Miller, se­nior re­searcher with the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Univer­sity Women.

The first-of-its-kind re­port from UA fol­lows a trend, said Brett Sokolow, pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Ti­tle IX Ad­min­is­tra­tors and a con­sul­tant to uni­ver­si­ties.

“More schools are start­ing to re­lease this data,” Sokolow said in an email.

In an in­tro­duc­tion to the re­port, Tyler Far­rar, UA’s Ti­tle IX co­or­di­na­tor, said the doc­u­ment “high­lights the many vari­ables that some­times limit po­ten­tial res­o­lu­tion op­tions.”

Out of the 53 com­plaints, in 12 cases a per­son mak­ing the ini­tial dis­clo­sure de­clined to par­tic­i­pate in a cam­pus in­quiry, while in 18 cases it was ei­ther un­known who might have com­mit­ted an as­sault or the per­son was not af­fil­i­ated with UA, the re­port states.

For nine com­plaints, “avail­able ev­i­dence did not sup­port a charge of pol­icy vi­o­la­tion or ne­ces­si­tate fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” the re­port states, and in six cases the univer­sity “hon­ored [a] re­quest by com­plainant for lim­ited or no ac­tion.”

“It’s my hope that this re­port will cre­ate bet­ter un­der­stand­ing about our process and the ob­sta­cles we face as we strive to make our cam­pus free of dis­crim­i­na­tion and sex­ual mis­con­duct,” Far­rar wrote in the re­port’s in­tro­duc­tion, which is ad­dressed to UA stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff.

The re­port did not state the sanc­tions im­posed on stu­dents found re­spon­si­ble af­ter a sex­ual as­sault com­plaint.

Far­rar said sanc­tions “avail­able” for sex­ual as­sault cases “in­clude ex­pul­sion, sus­pen­sion, con­duct pro­ba­tion, and/or other ed­u­ca­tional sanc­tions.”

“The ap­pro­pri­ate sanc­tion is de­pen­dent on a num­ber of fac­tors, in­clud­ing but not lim­ited to, the sever­ity of the al­le­ga­tions, the cam­pus safety con­cerns, and if the Re­spon­dent has any prior Univer­sity con­duct-re­lated his­tory,” Far­rar said. The term “Re­spon­dent” refers to some­one ac­cused of mis­con­duct by the per­son mak­ing the com­plaint.

The U.S. De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion has told schools they must pro­vide a prompt res­o­lu­tion to sex dis­crim­i­na­tion and sex­ual mis­con­duct com­plaints. The re­port does not in­clude in­for­ma­tion about the length of time for com­plaints to be re­solved.

“The UA strives for the prompt res­o­lu­tion of all com­plaints of sex­ual mis­con­duct while pro­vid­ing a fair, neu­tral, and eq­ui­table process for all in­volved par­ties,” Far­rar said in an email.

He did not pro­vide data when asked about the av­er­age length of time to re­solve com­plaints.

“Pro­vid­ing an ex­act length of time or an av­er­age amount of days is dif­fi­cult and likely ar­bi­trary based on a num­ber of vari­ables,” Far­rar said. “Some in­ves­ti­ga­tions are com­pleted in a mat­ter of days while oth­ers may take longer to com­plete.”

The re­port shows more than three times the num­ber of sex­ual as­sault com­plaints than the to­tals listed for rape and fondling in UA’s most re­cent yearly cam­pus se­cu­rity re­port, high­light­ing dif­fer­ences in the types of data on as­saults.

The an­nual se­cu­rity Clery Act re­port — re­quired of col­lege and uni­ver­si­ties — is lim­ited in its scope to de­tails about events re­ported as oc­cur­ring on prop­erty owned and con­trolled by a school or stu­dent or­ga­ni­za­tions, said Abi­gail Boyer, in­terim di­rec­tor of the Clery Cen­ter, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion fo­cused on cam­pus safety.

UA’s most re­cent Clery Act re­port also was for a dif­fer­ent time pe­riod — cal­en­dar year 2017. The re­port stated that nine rapes and five cases of fondling were re­ported.

“The Ti­tle IX An­nual Re­port iden­ti­fied po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tions of cam­pus pol­icy re­ported to the univer­sity ir­re­spec­tive of geo­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion,” said Far­rar.

The Ti­tle IX to­tals still do not tell the com­plete story about the preva­lence of sex­ual as­sault on cam­pus, how­ever, said Shi­wali Pa­tel, se­nior coun­sel with the Na­tional Women’s Law Cen­ter.

“It’s great that schools are keep­ing track of what’s re­ported to them,” Pa­tel said, but she added that “the ma­jor­ity [of sex­ual as­saults] are not re­ported.” In a 2017 UA cam­pus sur­vey, stu­dents were asked, “Have you ex­pe­ri­enced sex­ual con­tact with­out your con­sent since you be­came a stu­dent at this school?” A to­tal of 266 stu­dents an­swered yes, or 15 per­cent out of 1,772 who an­swered the ques­tion.

In ad­di­tion to sta­tis­ti­cal in­for­ma­tion — such as a tally of 122 com­plaints of all kinds re­viewed by the Ti­tle IX of­fice in 2017-18 — the re­port out­lines stu­dent and em­ployee train­ing on sex­ual as­sault pre­ven­tion.

The univer­sity, which has a to­tal en­roll­ment of about 27,700 stu­dents, had more than 8,000 stu­dents com­plete sex­ual as­sault pre­ven­tion train­ing for the year, the re­port states. An on­line train­ing, “Haven: Un­der­stand­ing Sex­ual As­sault,” is re­quired of new stu­dents, the re­port states.

Stu­dents who re­port as­sault or ha­rass­ment to a school may be able to re­ceive ac­com­mo­da­tions, such as al­ter­ations to their sched­ule or hous­ing. The re­port states that five aca­demic ac­com­mo­da­tions were ar­ranged through the Ti­tle IX of­fice, but that stu­dents also are granted aca­demic ac­com­mo­da­tions through other means. A to­tal of 17 no-con­tact or­ders were is­sued in 2017-18 through UA’s Ti­tle IX of­fice, the re­port states.

Num­bers of re­ported as­saults may in­di­cate a will­ing­ness to come for­ward as much as any changes in safety at a col­lege or univer­sity, Boyer said.

“When cam­puses are putting at­ten­tion and re­sources into things like at­ten­tion and re­sponse, and mak­ing sure peo­ple are aware of those re­port­ing op­tions, of­ten we see those statis­tics might in­crease,” said Boyer.

A 2016 fed­eral law­suit in which a for­mer UA-Fayetteville stu­dent claimed “de­lib­er­ate in­dif­fer­ence” by the univer­sity af­ter her rape re­port re­mains pend­ing, as does a fed­eral law­suit filed this year by a for­mer stu­dent al­leg­ing a vi­o­la­tion of Ti­tle IX and due process af­ter he was sanc­tioned by UA for sex­ual mis­con­duct.

“The UA strives for the prompt res­o­lu­tion of all com­plaints of sex­ual mis­con­duct while pro­vid­ing a fair, neu­tral, and eq­ui­table process for all in­volved par­ties,” Tyler Far­rar, UA’s Ti­tle IX co­or­di­na­tor

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