Provost issues campus-wide report on Title IX, sexual harassment cases

In a letter to the campus community, Provost Persis Drell shares a new report on cases of prohibited sexual conduct involving students, staff and faculty during the last academic year.

Dear Campus Community,

When I became provost just a little over a year ago, I reaffirmed Stanford’s commitment to preventing sexual violence, supporting victims, and providing fair and effective adjudication processes. These are critical elements of ensuring a safe and healthy campus environment in which we may all work, live, study and interact.

Today I am issuing Stanford’s first Annual Title IX/Sexual Harassment Report. This new report gives our community information about the cases of prohibited sexual conduct that have been brought to the university over the previous academic year – involving students, staff and faculty – and the outcomes of cases during that period.

Persis Drell

Provost Persis Drell (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

We are sharing these data to provide insight into this difficult topic, but without revealing details about particular cases to respect the privacy of affected individuals. The goal is to provide the Stanford community with information to assess where we stand today and how the university responds to reported concerns of sexual harassment, sexual violence and other unwanted sexual conduct.  Ultimately, I hope the report helps encourage members of our community to come forward with their concerns and to have conversations about conduct and the expectations we have for one another.

We also have other new efforts under way, and I’ll touch on a few of them in this letter. One is our advisory committee of faculty, students and staff that will make recommendations on our next campus climate survey. We have several new initiatives in the areas of education and prevention to report on, as well.

In recent months, there has been a moment of reckoning across our country and around the world – bringing to light new stories every day and reminding us of the deep impacts of sexual harassment and violence on the lives of countless people in our world. This movement further underscores that at Stanford, we must confront these issues as community issues, not simply as student issues; we must confront them as our issues, not someone else’s issues.

The report we are issuing today shows that prohibited sexual conduct happens throughout our community at Stanford. We all must join together as a community to put an end to this. The university must take the lead but cannot do it alone.  However, if each of us commits to stand up for each other, and to monitor our own conduct, it can be done – and it must be.

2016-17 Annual Title IX/Sexual Harassment Report

Last May, I provided the campus community with a preliminary report on outcomes from the first year of our pilot Student Title IX Process, from February 2016 to May 2017.

Now, we are releasing our first annual report on cases of sexual harassment, sexual violence and other unwanted sexual conduct that have been brought to the university, involving not only students but faculty and staff, as well. This report covers the university’s last complete academic year, 2016-17 (Sept. 1, 2016, to Aug. 31, 2017).

This report was prepared by our Office of Institutional Equity and Access and is available in full for your review.

The report presents a range of data. There are breakdowns of reports to the university by types of alleged conduct and by the university affiliations of complainants and respondents; summaries of the outcomes of different categories of cases brought to the university, including numbers of individuals who have received sanctions for their conduct; and further details on the outcomes of student Title IX cases heard in our pilot process. (It is important to note that for student Title IX data, the reporting period overlaps significantly with that of the report I issued last May.)

Two things I would emphasize:

One, I believe the actual numbers of incidents of wrongful sexual conduct are probably larger than are being reported to us. There are many possible reasons for this, but I want to take this moment to appeal to those who experience these acts to report them to us officially. The university can’t help if we don’t know about your experience.

Two, we are continuing to monitor the outcomes of cases to help determine whether our policies are doing what we want them to do. That evaluation is ongoing, and this report will help with it. We have an advisory committee of faculty and students that is actively monitoring the outcomes of cases heard through the pilot Student Title IX Process. The committee welcomes your feedback as it considers what changes to recommend for the process.

We expect this report to become more robust in the coming years as we continue evolving the ways in which we collect information. For instance, we know our community is interested in knowing more about the locations of incidents and about sexual harassment and sexual violence experienced by individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming and/or non-binary, and queer. We are working to collect these data points so that they may be part of future reports.

I invite your input on the report and its presentation of data. You may email me directly, share input with the advisory committee, or both.

Education, prevention, understanding the climate

I also want to highlight a series of other activities occurring now as part of our efforts to continue combating sexual harassment and violence.

  • I asked a committee of students, faculty and staff to gather campus input and make recommendations on the university’s next campus climate survey of undergraduate and graduate students. This survey will give us an updated view of students’ experiences with unwanted sexual conduct at Stanford. The group is chaired by Professor Susan McConnell and is welcoming input from the community. I encourage you to provide any thoughts you may have by emailing the committee at
  • Based on the success of the Beyond Sex Ed program for incoming students, this spring the Office of Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse Education & Response (SARA) will offer an educational program to all sophomores focusing on healthy relationships. This program builds on the foundation established in the Beyond Sex Ed Program, which focuses on personal agency and good sexual citizenship.
  • The SARA Office has launched the SARA Ambassador Program, which invites students of all genders and identities to become volunteer leaders promoting healthy sexuality and relationships in our campus community.
  • On behalf of the ASSU and under the leadership of students Rachel Green and Zhi Ping Teo, the Stanford Coalition on Sexual Violence has pulled together disparate student and administrative campus efforts in an effort to regularly engage with the campus on this issue. We look forward to productive conversations leading to further actions as a result of these student-initiated efforts.

I hope you find all of this information useful. I welcome continued dialogue with you on how to continue working as a community to create the environment of safety and mutual respect that we all desire for Stanford and for our world.

Persis S. Drell