Yale University found six students guilty of “nonconsensual sex” during the first half of 2013 and allowed all of them to continue pursuing an Ivy League diploma from the school.
Only one of the six students that a university committee or administrator found guilty of nonconsensual sex was suspended, according to a semi-annual report on Yale sexual misconduct. That student was excluded from Yale for two semesters and was placed on probation for the remainder of his time at Yale. Four students who were found guilty of nonconsensual sex were given written reprimands, with one required to attend gender sensitivity training. One student received probation.
Yale, in New Haven, Conn., said it responded to eight reports of sexual assault in 2013, through June 30. Two students who were found not guilty of nonconsensual sex allegations against them were counseled by administrators on appropriate conduct, the school said.
Yale spokeswoman Karen N. Peart said the university does not tolerate sexual misconduct, but said the school won’t discuss the specific cases.
“One result of this commitment to confidentiality is that the descriptions in the report do not fully capture the diversity and complexity of the circumstances associated with the complaints or the factors that determined the outcomes and sanctions,” Peart said. “Nonetheless, the range of penalties described in the semi-annual report reflects our readiness to impose harsh sanctions when the findings warrant them.”
Yale released its fourth semi-annual Report of Complaints of Sexual Misconduct on Wednesday night. Yale has produced the report since the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights launched an investigation into the university’s handling of sexual violence on campus in 2011. The investigation concluded in 2012 with a “voluntary resolution agreement.” Yale was fined $155,000 this year by the Education Department for failing to properly report all sexual violence crimes on campus, a violation of the Clery Act.
Yale graduate Alexandra Brodsky, a sexual assault victim whose federal complaint helped spark the 2011 investigation, said it’s disheartening that Yale will allow multiple students who have been found guilty of sexual assault to return to campus this fall.
“It’s so, so frustrating to have reported to the school, been let down by the school, brought it to the federal government and then get let down by the federal government,” Brodsky said.
The Education Department has faced tough criticism for not coming down harder on Yale following the investigation. Nathan Harden, a Yale graduate who now runs the conservative College Fix website, wrote that he was astonished the department did not penalize the university. A group of sexual assault victims and allies have started a petition calling on the Education Department to levy sanctions for violations of Title IX, the federal gender equity law that requires colleges to respond to reports of sexual misconduct on campus. The law doesn’t authorize financial penalties.
The government continues to monitor Yale to ensure it follows the resolution agreement. Failure to do so may result in further governmental action, including the possible loss of all federal funding.
The new report on sexual misconduct punishments shows that Yale hasn’t changed its approach to sex crimes, despite the federal investigations, Brodsky said. Brodsky will return to Yale this fall to study law. She said she plans to continue to pressure the university and the Education Department to take a more serious view of sex crimes.
Brodsky said she’s heard from other Yale campus sex crimes victims who told her they were dissuaded from filing formal complaints. Yale graduate student Hannah Slater, who started the campus discussion group Sexual Literacy Forum, said victims frequently tell her they don’t bother attempting to report to the university at all.
“Most of them don’t use the Yale complaint system because they don’t trust that their needs will be served, and this report proves them tragically right,” Slater said.
A wave of universities and colleges have been slapped with federal complaints this year from students who have said that students found guilty of rape were receiving light punishments. At the University of Colorado-Boulder and Occidental College in Los Angeles, for example, students said their assailants were assigned book reports and brief suspensions as sanctions.
Other schools have made progress on their own. Duke University, for example, announced in July that expulsion will be the “preferred sanction” when a student is found responsible for sexual assault.
“We really need the Education Department to really be enforcing” Title IX, Brodsky said. “No wonder Yale is behaving this way. It’s gotten away with these violations so far, why would it think it needs to do better?”