Over 300 sexual assaults were reported to UW-Madison in 2017, according to data released Wednesday, and while the number was on par with last year, reports increased by just over 100 cases since 2015.
University officials pointed to an increase in knowledge about the reporting process, not actual sexual assaults as the reason for last year’s jump. According to Director of the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards,Tonya Schmidt this years relatively stagnant numbers support this theory.
Of the 318 cases reported only 11 were investigated. This disparity exists for a multitude of reasons, according to Schmidt.
“One of the things that we need for us to do an investigation is for one the complainant to be willing to go forward in that process because we want to give them agency and choice in that and two [the assailant] has to be a UW-Madison student,” Schmidt said.
Additionally, the assailant must be identifiable from the report. Respondents can remain unidentified either because they are unknown to the survivor or because the survivor chose to keep the assailant anonymous.
92 percent of cases reported fell into one of these categories and 54 percent of cases were reported to a confidential resource where neither parties are identified.
The UW-Madison Title IX Coordinator is responsible for reaching out to all identifiable complainants to both offer resources for survivors and inform them of their options in the reporting process.
However, not all survivors want an investigation. Only 11 students out of the 23 reports had respondents who were both identified and were a UW-Madison student wanted to pursue an investigation.
“Our Title IX Coordinator reaches out to a lot of people and they don’t respond and that’s completely fine, it just means they don’t want to talk about this any further,” Schmidt said.
The 11 investigations resulted in one expulsion, two suspensions and one University Probation. One case is still in progress and six respondents were found not responsible based on a preponderance of the evidence.
“If that investigating officer does not have enough information to find the student responsible at a preponderance level, first I want to say it does not mean we don’t believe the complainant, it means we just don’t have the information,” Schmidt said.