Shifting the Paradigm shows sexual misconduct data

Lindsay Ruhl, Contributing Writer

Dusty Porter addresses attendees. (Lindsay Ruhl)

The Division of Student Affairs and the Title IX Office hosted its eighth annual “Shifting the Paradigm” presentation to present new sexual assault data and explain its significance on Oct. 25.

“Our hope is that you use this opportunity as inspiration for how we can, as a unified body of students, staff and faculty members of the greater New Orleans community, use this knowledge and translate it into intentional action for positive change,” Dusty Porter, vice president of student affairs, said.

“Every individual who has been harmed has the right to be heard,” Chief Title IX Officer Marcus Foster said. “It is our job to ensure that the institution and, more importantly, professionally trained staff members are here to listen and respond accordingly.”

The Title IX Office collected data from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. During this time, there were 365 sexual misconduct and other Title IX related allegations and 331 cases reported. The office sometimes has cases that involve multiple allegations. 

The largest category of these allegations is sexual assault. Other categories include sexual harassment, stalking, intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation or other Title IX related matters. These numbers peaked during October, November and March. Usually, there is a significant spike in August and September, but the numbers did not peak until students returned to campus due to Hurricane Ida. The office also counts cases where someone has dealt with sexual assault before Tulane and needs support. 

There were 136 student respondents identified to the university, representing 83.4% of student respondents, meaning that in the other 16.6% of cases involving student respondents, the victim chose not to share the respondent’s name.

“When folks feel comfortable sharing a name with us, it gives me hope that that represents a level of trust in the university and the offices that are handling these reports,” Julia Broussard, associate director for Title IX, said. “So that’s a stat that I was happy to see, and we always like to get that number up.” 

About half of the cases occurred off campus and under a third happened on campus. 

“It’s interesting to me that we see more of those taking place off campus rather than on campus, in a residence hall or a building on campus,” Broussard said. 

The 2021-2022 academic year had more sexual misconduct cases and allegations than 2019-2020 and 2020-2021. Those academic years were heavily impacted by COVID-19. 

“Those were two years where our numbers were lowered in some ways by COVID,” Broussard said. “If we had a five-year view displayed, you would see that the ’21-’22 school year looks more like our pre-COVID years in terms of reported cases.”

As Tulane’s new Clery Act Coordinator, Margaret Martin reviews and oversees every criminal instance that gets reported to the university. The Clery Act requires colleges and universities to report and disclose crimes that occur on and around campus. 

In the 2021-2022 school year, there were 26 cases of rape, 22 cases of stalking and 17 cases of fondling reported. Tulane reported a murder case in Sept. 2021 as result of a murder-suicide that took place in the lobby of a Houston hotel where Tulane students had evacuated after Hurricane Ida. None of the people involved were affiliated with Tulane, but because the hotel had a contract with Tulane, the university had to report it.

The Title IX Office and Division of Student Affairs recognize the space for improvement and their commitment to keeping everyone safe on campus. 

“While the data is in the aggregate, we recognize that each number that we see on the screen represents a member of our community,” Porter said. “One incident of sexual violence is one too many. We know we still have work to do in this space. And we are grateful that you have chosen to do this work with us.”

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