By Max Radwin, Deputy Magazine Editor
Published March 3, 2014
The University’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution released its annual report for the 2012 to 2013 academic year Feb. 28, highlighting shifts in sexual misconduct policy as well as upward trends in alcohol violations.
There were 621 reported violations of the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities during the 2012 to 2013 academic year. Of those, 544 were dealt with by OSCR through its three resolution programs — “Formal Conflict Resolution,” “Adaptable Conflict Resolution” and “Adaptable Conflict Resolution for Alcohol and other Drugs” — which attempt to resolve issues through processes such as mediation, conflict coaching and facilitated dialogue, depending on the type and severity of the infraction.
The 621 reported violations mark a nearly 25-percent increase from the previous academic year, which saw 497 violations reported.
The report also emphasized a 42-percent increase in alcohol violations from the previous academic year. In an interview with the Daily, OSCR Director Jay Wilgus said the statistic had been on an upward trend for the last five years, but the numbers fluctuate and aren’t a cause for alarm. The number of violations related to the possession of other drugs also rose from 10 to 24 cases.
Sexual misconduct was a main focus in this year’s report. Of the 621 total violations, 83 involved sexual misconduct — assault, harassment, stalking or hazing “of a sexual nature” — an increase from the 71 reported the previous year and the nine reported in the 2010 to 2011 academic year.
“I think that’s a good thing because it shows that folks are utilizing the systems available or reporting sexual misconduct matters and having them addressed,” Wilgus said.
The 2012 to 2013 academic year was the last during which OSCR dealt with sexual misconduct using the Interim Procedure for Addressing Sexual Misconduct Allegations Against Students, which became effective in August 2011 while the University was working on drafting a new permanent policy.
The interim procedure was implemented after an 868-day revision process of the University’s sexual misconduct policy after the U.S. Department of Education issued a mandate in 2011 regarding how universities should handle allegations of sexual misconduct.
Under the Interim Procedure, the University took a more investigative approach to those kinds of allegations compared to its approach under the preceding complaint-focused model, which dealt with incidents of sexual misconduct through its resolution programs described in the Statement of Student Rights.
This year’s annual report highlighted OSCR’s use of the interim procedure in collaboration with the Office for Institutional Equity to handle these 83 incidents. It also worked with the OIE to move from the interim procedure to the new University of Michigan Policy on Sexual Misconduct by Students that went into effect Aug. 19, 2013, and which will permanently replace that interim policy.
In January, The Michigan Daily reported that former kicker Brendan Gibbons was permanently separated from the University on Dec. 20, 2013 after being found responsible for violating the University’s sexual misconduct policy in 2009. The University used the newest sexual misconduct policy to handle the violation.
Regarding its future goals, the report noted an effort to continue “working with campus partners to implement the UM Policy on Sexual Misconduct by Students and educate the campus community about it.”
Wilgus said his office has also been working with the University’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, Central Student Government, ROTC, the College of Engineering, the Athletic Department and others in an effort to educate the student body about the new policy.
"Anybody who has time and interest and wants to learn about the policy, we go talk to,” he said. “And then in addition, key student populations where we know there is a big audience and there’s a number of folks we can get in front of at one time.”
This year was the last that sexual misconduct will appear in the annual OSCR report. In the future, information regarding sexual misconduct will appear in a separate document organized by Title IX Coordinator Anthony Walesby, director of the Office of Institutional Equity.