Content Warning: This article discusses sexual misconduct.
The University of Maryland received a record number of sexual misconduct reports during the 2021-2022 period, but most didn’t result in investigations, according to the latest data from this university’s Title IX office.
The Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct released annual sexual misconduct reports for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 reporting periods on Friday. The data indicates a rise in reports once students returned to campus after the pandemic’s onset, as well as a surge in support measures provided to students.
The spike in reports comes after the office saw a record-low in sexual misconduct reports in the 2020-2021 reporting period. This corresponded with a steep drop in sexual misconduct complaints, which the office refers to as situations when a student engages the university to address the report.
A sexual misconduct report is when OCRSM receives a potential complaint of sexual misconduct from a student, staff or faculty member. A Title IX coordinator at OCRSM will then review the report and reach out to the complainant. From there, the complainant can decide if they want to file a complaint, which is when they request the university address a report of sexual misconduct. The university addresses each report in accordance with university policies.
Angela Nastase, interim Title IX director at this university, said these drops were likely due to the pandemic. There were also changes, put in place by former President Donald Trump’s administration, that included the addition of cross-examination of the accusing party. Nastase said these changes could deter complainants from moving forward with complaints and investigations because the process is emotionally difficult or a myriad of other reasons.
The two reports released Friday are the first to account for changes in the cross-examination process.
President Joe Biden’s administration proposed new Title IX guidelines over the summer, which call for the removal of the cross-examination requirement for accusers and enhance support for transgender students. The proposed changes are not in place yet.
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Of the hundreds of reports in the 2021-2022 reporting period, just 25 became formal complaints. In 94 cases, the complainant who submitted the report did not want to move forward. In another 107 cases, the complainant did not respond to outreach. In 41 reports, the university determined it did not have authority over the respondent.
The largest share of sexual misconduct reports in the 2021-2022 period was for sexual harassment, which made up 92 of the reports. The university classified 48 of the reports as “Sexual Assault- Non-consensual Sexual Penetration,” 38 reports as an undisclosed sexual assault and 36 reports as “Sexual Assault – Fondling.” There were also reports related to stalking, relationship violence, sexual exploitation and sexual coercion, among other types.
Most of the reports that the office officially investigated were for sexual assaults. There was one expulsion in the 2021-2022 period. Several investigations are pending outcomes.
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Of the 108 reports OCRSM received in the 2020-2021 period, 57 resulted in the complainant not responding to the office’s outreach and 23 resulted in the complainant declining to move forward with the report.
Sexual harassment was the most frequently reported type of sexual misconduct in the 2020-2021 period, making up 30 of the 108 reports. However, there were zero investigations into sexual harassments that same period. There were 43 reports of sexual assault, and nine of those led to formal investigations. One student was expelled after being found responsible for dating violence, stalking and retaliation.
The University of Maryland’s CARE to Stop Violence crisis line can be reached at (301) 741-3442. The university’s counseling center can be reached at (301) 314-7651. Individuals can file sexual misconduct or discrimination reports through the university’s Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct here.
This story has been updated.