The University of Missouri logged 300-plus reports of possible sex discrimination in the past year, ranging from rape to dating violence to bullying.
Campus administrators recorded 332 incidents from 328 people who said they experienced sex, gender or sexual orientation discrimination, according to a report made public Thursday. Many ultimately did not press for formal investigations or disciplinary action.
But, said the report issued by the MU Title IX office, 33 complaints moved forward and three of those remained under investigation at midsummer. Title IX refers to federal law requiring that colleges and universities provide equal education opportunities for students regardless of gender, including that they be free of discrimination and safe from assault or harassment.
Six of the 33 cases pursued by the office were dismissed for lack of evidence or because it wasn’t clear that sex discrimination was involved, the report states. Twelve were resolved through conflict resolution or mediation, and a dozen more were settled using “the informal or formal resolution process.”
Various cases also led to seven student suspensions. “Discretionary sanctions” were imposed on one other student. And four students were cleared.
The report covers August 2014 through July 2015. The university has no previous numbers to compare because the report is the first of what will now be an annual record to track the school’s Title IX cases.
It also reflects a renewed national effort to combat campus rape and MU’s heightened efforts on the issue. The action in Columbia followed the suicide in 2011 of swimmer Sasha Menu Courey, who wrote in a journal found after her death that she had been raped. Various reports, including one commissioned by the school and conducted by an outside law firm, suggested MU failed to live up to Title IX standards in its handling of the case.
That prompted UM System President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin to promise sweeping changes, including the hiring of Ellen Eardley as full-time Title IX officer and other initiatives such as the report released Thursday.
Roughly a third of the incidents reported to campus officials fell under the definition of sexual misconduct, ranging from rape to indecent exposure. About a fourth of the incidents were classified as sexual harassment. The next two most common complaints came from incidents of dating violence and stalking.
“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,” Eardley said in a news release that accompanied the report.
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