State of Student Life Address reveals rise in sexual misconduct cases

During his annual State of Student Life Address Sept. 23, Dean of Students Jerry Price discusses the rise in Title IX cases at Chapman. Photo by Kaitlin Homan.

During his annual State of Student Life Address Sept. 23, Dean of Students Jerry Price discusses the rise in Title IX cases at Chapman. Photo by Kaitlin Homan.

Dean of Students Jerry Price hosted the State of Student Life Address Sept. 23 in the Musco Center, where he discussed data about student life from the last year, including statistics on Title IX cases, which have almost doubled since last year.

Title IX is a U.S. education amendment that prohibits discrimination on college campuses based on gender and protects students from sexual harassment. Price discussed the Title IX cases under the heading “Reality Check” in his presentation.

“We’ll talk about a reality check because this is not a promotional piece,” Price said to the audience. “This is not for (public relations) purposes, and so we’re going to talk about some of the tough things that we’re dealing with as well.”

Price said that 68 cases fell under the category of sexual misconduct in the past year, compared to 36 cases in the 2014 to 2015 academic year.

Most of these reports were sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual battery or dating violence.

Of these 68 reports, 35 were forwarded for investigation.

Price explained that the university only has the authority under Title IX to investigate cases in which the perpetrator is part of the Chapman community. He also said that in many cases, the reports are merely inaccurate accounts that have been shared from secondhand sources.

“We’re only able to investigate ones that we have institutional control over (under Title IX),” Price said. “What that means is that 33 of these cases more than likely involved alleged perpetrators that were not members of the Chapman community. In other cases, we never learn who that perpetrator is.”

Of the 35 cases that were investigated, 14 of those investigations found that a policy was violated and appropriate disciplinary action was taken.

In 16 investigations, there was insufficient evidence to determine if there was a policy violation, and five cases are still pending.

Price said that these numbers are consistent with previous years. The biggest change administrators have seen since previous years in current numbers is a newfound willingness for victims or bystanders to come forward and report incidents.

“I don’t believe, in my experience, that means there are more incidences. I just think more people are willing to report now,” Price said. “I think more bystanders are willing to report now, which is very good. It’s an important development.”

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