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Stanford report details frequency, response to sexual violence

Provost: 'It's clear that we still have more work to do'

The national #MeToo movement's reckoning with sexual violence trickled down to Stanford University, where over the past year officials received reports of allegations of misconduct from years and decades past.

This revelation is included in the university's second annual report on Title IX and sexual harassment, which sheds light on the frequency, investigations, outcomes, reporting parties and perpetrators of sexual misconduct at Stanford. The university released the report Tuesday in an ongoing effort to "hold ourselves accountable on this issue," Provost Persis Drell wrote in an announcement.

"Incidents of sexual harassment and sexual violence can have significant and long-lasting impacts on the individuals who experience them," she wrote. "As a community, it's critical that we have honest and open conversations about conduct and voice the expectations we have for how we should treat one another."

The document details 221 total incidents reported over the previous academic year, from Sept. 1, 2017, through Aug. 31, 2018 — up from 190 reports documented in the 2016-17 year. The report also includes outcomes for incidents that were reported last year but resolved this year.

Drell cautioned that the numbers are likely underreported given national statistics regarding the reporting of sexual violence and sexual harassment, driven by "fear of not being believed or of retaliation."

The bulk of the 2017-18 reports, 76, relate to allegations of workplace sexual harassment, followed by student sexual harassment (37), nonconsensual intercourse (26), nonconsensual touching (22), relationship violence (12) and stalking (8), among other categories. The majority of the alleged incidents occurred in the 2017-18 year but some reached back farther, including one from the 1980s and two from the 2000s.

Of the reports of sexual harassment in the workplace or academic settings, the university conducted 32 formal investigations and issued 19 findings of policy violations. Outcomes ranged from separation from Stanford, removal from programs and suspensions to warnings and reassignment. All but one of the individuals found responsible for violating the university's sexual harassment policy in this category were male, according to the report. Six investigations into workplace sexual harassment resulted in non-hearing resolutions, meaning both parties agree to an outcome to avoid a formal investigation.

There were also 21 interventions in this category, meaning Stanford took action to address a concern that didn't rise to the level of a policy violation but is "nonetheless objectionable" conduct, the report states.

Of the nearly 40 reports of student-on-student sexual harassment, Stanford formally investigated four incidents. One male staff member was found responsible for violating policy and was separated from the university as a result, according to the report. A male alumnus was removed as a mentor and two male undergraduates were not found responsible or not charged for violating policy.

For student sexual harassment, there were 11 informal interventions, the majority involving undergraduate men.

In 2017-18, Stanford received 26 allegations of rape and sexual assault and investigated 12 cases. Only one case resulted in a finding of responsibility, in which a male staff member was separated from the university. This case was the man's second "incident," the report notes.

Seven investigations into nonconsensual intercourse resulted in non-hearing resolutions or other action, including stay-away directives, psychoeducational counseling and restrictions on university activity. All of the accused parties in this category were men, including undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty and a graduate.

Of the 22 nonconsensual touching allegations — defined by the university as touching of the breasts, buttocks or genitals without consent — five were formally investigated and three resulted in policy violations. Two male staff members were warned as a result of the violations and one program participant was banned from campus while the reporting student was attending Stanford.

In approximately 65 percent of student cases involving nonconsensual intercourse or nonconsensual touching, alcohol and/or drugs were used during or prior to an incident, Drell said.

The university investigated three stalking allegations in 2017-18, finding one male postdoctoral student responsible for violating policy. Most of the reports of relationship violence were not formally investigated, though four cases were still in progress when the report was completed.

One male undergraduate was banned from campus for seven quarters for a retaliation allegation that ended in a non-hearing resolution.

In response to questions about whether male varsity athletes are more likely to perpetrate sexual violence than other students, Drell said that the percentage of reports involving male athletes in 2017-18 was slightly lower than the overall population of varsity male athletes on campus.

The university does not yet have enough information to answer similar questions about the rates of misconduct at fraternities and sororities, Drell said.

Stanford released its first Title IX/sexual harassment report in February, covering the 2016-17 year. The university plans to continue to release reports on an annual basis and anticipates improving and adding data each year, an introduction states. Next year's report will be the first opportunity for Stanford to present a three-year comparison.

"There has been a much-needed national spotlight on sexual violence and sexual harassment," Drell said. "This difficult issue continues to have the highest attention of both the president and me. It's clear that we still have more work to do here at Stanford."

The university encouraged the campus community to provide feedback on the report and for anyone who has experienced sexual misconduct to reach out for help with the Sexual Harassment Policy Office (harass@stanford.edu) or the Title IX Office (titleix@stanford.edu). More resources are available at sexualviolencesupport.stanford.edu.

Read the report in full here.

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