September 17th, 2015
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Following 18 months of significant changes to the University of Missouri’s policies, procedures, staffing and resources related to sex discrimination and mental health issues on campus, officials in the University of Missouri’s Title IX Office released the first MU Title IX Office Annual Report today. The report, which quantifies and describes incidents reported to the Title IX Office from Aug. 1, 2014 to July 31, 2015, establishes baseline information that can be used in future years to identify trends and improve initiatives to stop sex discrimination and prevent its occurrence.
“Our goal is to progress toward a truly safe and inclusive environment where all students, faculty and staff feel welcome, valued and secure. We have an opportunity and an obligation to use the information the Title IX Office collects to improve campus culture and reduce sex discrimination at MU,” said Ellen Eardley, Title IX administrator and assistant vice provost. “While we understand that sex discrimination – including sex-based violence – occurs at MU, we are encouraged that the Mizzou community regularly engages with the Title IX Office to report these incidents and to help us educate the community about ways to stop these behaviors. We may see the number of reports rise as our education activities increase and people are more aware of the Title IX Office and its purpose.”
According to the report, which focuses on students, 328 individuals reported 332 incidents during which they experienced sex, gender or sexual orientation discrimination (four individuals reported more than one incident of discrimination). These 332 incidents resulted in the identification of 374 allegations of sex discrimination.
“Most reports of sex discrimination came from employees of MU who were expressing sincere concerns about students,” MU Provost Garnett Stokes said. “The faculty and staff on this campus genuinely support our students, and we’re making great strides to improve our climate and make it a safe place where all students can focus on their college experiences. We want students to know that faculty and staff are concerned for their well-being; when these reports are made, our Title IX Office is able to connect students to resources that can support them during a potentially difficult time in their lives.”
One mission of the Title IX Office is to connect individuals, based on specific needs and preferences, with resources on campus that can help them continue their academic careers on campus. Accommodations include counseling referrals, changes in housing or class schedules, assistance in communicating with faculty members for academic concerns, and parking and transportation accommodations.
While not required, 162 of the 328 alleged victims did speak with the Title IX Office and received some type of support or accommodation. A number of these students asked not to pursue a formal investigation or disciplinary action against the respondent. Thirty-three complaints moved forward. Three of these matters were still under investigation as of July 31, 2015. Six of these were dismissed for insufficient evidence or because the incident was clearly not sex discrimination. Twelve complaints were resolved through conflict resolution or mediation. Additionally, 12 complaints of sex discrimination against students were resolved using the informal or formal resolution process. Mizzou officials suspended seven students, imposed discretionary sanctions on one student and found four students not responsible.
“These numbers provide an appropriate baseline for us as we move forward and determine how we can best utilize our investments in training and education programs to make a difference in the lives of our students,” said MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin. “I am grateful for the hard work of everyone on campus and especially the staff of the Title IX Office for the creativity, collaboration and diligence they have shown during the past 18 months as we work to make MU an even safer and healthier place for our students to learn and prepare for their future careers.”
Changes in MU policies, procedures, staffing or resources over the past 18 months include:
- Creation of a new Title IX Office, hiring of permanent Title IX administrator, a lead Title IX investigator and three investigators.
- Implementation of the “Not Anymore” online program, a video-based educational program about sexual assault, consent, dating violence, stalking and bystander intervention. All new undergraduate, graduate and transfer students are required to complete the Not Anymore program. The Title IX Office and the Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) Center have been working with various campus stakeholders to implement the training.
- Execution of online sex discrimination training for all faculty and staff during the 2014-2015 academic year with a high completion rate.
- Implementation of new policies regarding reporting of sex discrimination and the process by which sex discrimination allegations are investigated and adjudicated.
- Revision of policies prohibiting sex discrimination, which included requiring all employees to report incidents of sex discrimination to the Title IX office.
- Adoption of new procedures for investigating complaints against faculty and staff.
Other accomplishments include:
- Training 60 employees through a 2-to-8 day training course on gender discrimination and university policies.
- Creating a website and promotional materials that provide information about students’ rights and options as well as a place to report Title IX violations online.
- Working with Residential Life, Greek Life, Athletics, the Provost’s Office and other stakeholders, the Title IX Office and the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) Center have enhanced in-person prevention workshops and provided additional educational opportunities, including Green Dot, a bystander intervention program.
- Ongoing coordination among campus and community stakeholders who most frequently respond to reports of sex-based violence, including Title IX, RSVP, Student Affairs, the hospital’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Unit, True North, MUPD, CPD, and mental health providers in monthly meetings of the University of Missouri Sexual Assault Response Team (USART).
As of July 2015, the Title IX Office has delivered more than 60 presentations to more than 3,500 faculty, staff, students, and community members.
Editor’s note: The Title IX Annual Report can be found here: http://title9.missouri.edu/about/annual-report