More than 40 percent of sexual misconduct cases that come through Ohio University’s Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility are ultimately found not in violation of the university’s code of conduct, according to recent reports.
The numbers in the latest report correspond with referrals received by the office from August 2016 to August 2017. OU’s Board of Trustees is set to review the numbers at its upcoming meeting this week.
The overall number of cases of sexual misconduct investigated by Community Standards has decreased from 30 in the 2015-16 academic year to 24 in the 2016-17 academic year. The number for the 2016-17 academic year, however, has remained “consistent with the average,” according to the report. There was an increase in sexual exploitation, non-consensual sexual intercourse and stalking violations.
So far, 44 percent of cases submitted to the office for the 2016-17 academic year have been found not in violation of the university’s conduct code. Meanwhile, 28 percent of cases have been found in violation, and decisions are still pending for 23 percent of the cases. In 5 percent of cases, the respondent accepted responsibility.
Non-consensual sexual acts and non-consensual sexual intercourse were the most commonly investigated cases for both the 2016-17 and 2015-16 academic years.
Of the 15 cases of non-consensual sexual intercourse submitted to the office for the 2016-17 academic year, fewer than half have been found in violation. This year’s numbers are nearly identical to those released last year. Both years’ numbers have been down from 2014-15, when 75 percent of non-consensual sexual intercourse cases were found not in violation.
OU defines consent as an informed, knowing and voluntary agreement to a sexual act. It must be clear and unambiguous for each participant, and consent to some sexual acts does not equal consent to other acts, according to a .
When a sexual assault survivor approached Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones at the showing of the and asked about the investigation process, Hall-Jones told her that although close to a majority of cases aren’t in violation of the code of conduct, students have options for coming forward.
“Even if it’s just between you and that other person and you feel like it’s ‘he said she said’ … depending on the evidence you do have, it could be enough for a finding,” Hall-Jones said. “So I don’t want you to think that you don’t have enough, just because 50 percent of the people weren’t found in violation. You could also say that 50 percent of people were found in violation.”
Not all reports of sexual misconduct submitted to the Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance, or ECRC, result in investigations.
“Every report is evaluated and followed up on with the survivor to discuss with them resources and options and to obtain additional information to assist ECRC in providing a prompt, fair and equitable response to address the reported sexual misconduct,” OU Spokeswoman Carly Leatherwood said in a July email. “However, not every report will result in an investigation.”
In some cases, Leatherwood explained, the facts and circumstances of a reported incident may not meet standards required for the incident to be considered a violation of university policy.
In an effort to prevent sexual misconduct on campus, incoming and first-year students are required to complete online courses “Not Anymore” and “Haven,” both of which aim to educate students about consent, sexual violence and bystander intervention.
Most recently, the university introduced “Bridges: Building a Supportive Community,” a new online education module for faculty and staff lauded by OU President Duane Nellis as “very timely.”
Clarification: The headline of the article has been updated to clarify that about half of the cases were found not in violation of the university's code of conduct.