The number of sexual misconduct reports made at IU-Bloomington are down by nearly 30 percent from last school year.
There were 164 reports of sexual misconduct during the 2016-2017 school year, according to the Office of Student Welfare & Title IX report, released in early February. These reports were categorized into sexual exploitation, stalking, domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment.
“We're getting more people talking and seeking help and being receptive to the idea that someone is going to listen to them and take it seriously,” Title IX coordinator Emily Springston said.
Because IU is a public university that receives federal funding, adherence to Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in public education, is mandated. As a part of the law, schools are required to address sexual misconduct on campus.
The annual report also reiterates IU’s commitment to stopping sexual misconduct on campus, outlines the process all reports of sexual misconduct go through and describes programming on campus aimed at educating students and employees on sexual misconduct.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced plans to rollback Obama-era federal guidance on Title IX on September 7, 2017. Springston said this announcement has had no effect on the way IU handles cases.
“If anything, it's just to, on an ongoing basis, figure out something that could be refined and improved,” Springston said.
Last year also saw the rise of the #MeToo movement, inspiring survivors of sexual assault to speak out against their abusers. Springston said IU was already having its #MeToo movement with students reporting sexual misconduct before it took a more national spotlight.
“There's slowly this realization of 'this is a pervasive issue,’” Springston said. “It's not unique to any one area. Some of the qualities of it are places where someone has a level of authority or superiority over another but we also see this between peers in workplaces.”
IU also signed a resolution agreement last week with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights which cleared IU of multiple federal investigations into their sexual misconduct policies.
The agreement requires IU to report back to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights by Aug. 31, 2018 to address steps the University will take to review its sexual misconduct policy.
In comparison to IU regional campuses, IU-Bloomington had far more reports of sexual misconduct.
However, the differences are due at least in part to the size and type of each campus, Springston said. For example, IU-Kokomo only had two reports of sexual misconduct, but its campus has only around 4,000 students and does not have on-campus housing.
Among the Big Ten Schools in 2017, IU had the fifth-lowest number of reports of sexual misconduct at 72, according to each university's annual security report. The University of Maryland had the least at 25 reports and University of Iowa had the most at 212 reports.
Numbers for the other schools broken down by rapes, cases of stalking, aggravated assaults and cases of domestic violence are available here.
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