University of Missouri sees hike in discrimination reports

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The University of Missouri saw an uptick in reports of discrimination and harassment in the 2017-2018 school year from the previous year, according to new data.

The university’s Office for Civil Rights and Title IX received 750 reported violations of its anti-discriminatory policy last year, up from 693 reports the previous year, the Columbia Missourian reported . The office also saw an increase in the number of reports made against faculty members during that period, from 62 to 106.

The office is responsible for resolving incidents reported under Title IX, the federal law that deals with gender-based discrimination and sexual misconduct in schools that receive federal money.

“The main goal of the office is to foster a campus climate where individuals can work and go to school free of sexual harassment and any form of discrimination,” said Andy Hayes, the office’s assistant vice chancellor.

Through investigations, conflict resolution and referrals, the office resolved 182 of the incidents reported last year. Forty-six of the cases required the office to conduct formal investigations, which resulted in 11 individuals being sanctioned.

“There are a lot of things that we can quickly resolve,” Hayes said. “It is on those more serious matters where we may have to do the full investigation.”

Hayes noted the university conducts investigations for reports of sexual assault.

But the remaining 568 cases are unresolved, which university officials credit to a handful of reasons, such as the alleged victim not responding to the office’s outreach or choosing not to pursue formal action. Some reports didn’t include identifying information, while other cases were unresolved because the office determined it didn’t hold jurisdiction.

The office also found that reports of sex and gender discrimination, which includes sexual harassment and assault, accounted for nearly 60 percent of all reported incidents last year. Reports of racial and disability-based discrimination declined last year, while reports of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination increased.

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