UMN grad students call for better sexual harassment reporting

The Council of Graduate Students presented a resolution last week requesting more detailed reports on sexual harassment.

Maraya King

Graduate students at the University of Minnesota are calling for more transparency from administration in reporting claims of sexual harassment. 

The University’s Council of Graduate Students presented a resolution last week requesting that the University release more detailed reports outlining incidents of sexual harassment — which they feel is severely lacking. 

In January, the office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action released the first-ever report on sexual harassment at the University during 2017.

COGS President and co-author of the resolution Lauren Mitchell said this report is missing crucial information.

The EOAA’s data lumps together reports from students, non-university members and unknown individuals, Mitchell said, making it unclear for readers.

“The report that [EOAA] published is very pretty, but it’s a two page report that has three or four tables in it, there’s very very little information, but even that bit is more than we have ever had before,” said Jonathan Borowsky, COGS chief of staff and co-author of the resolution.

Members of COGS are requesting that future reports include the total number of sexual harassment reports, which reports resulted in investigation or disciplinary action, a breakdown of whether a student, staff or faculty reported the incident and other clarifications of the data. 

“The things we are asking for are not pieces of information that the EOAA doesn’t already have,” Mitchell said. “They know all of these things, it’s just a matter of compiling them in a way that can actually be reported.”

Director of Public Health and Communication for Boynton Health Dave Golden said they recently added questions regarding sexual misconduct to their student survey.

“We think these are important data for our students, who are our main population,” Golden said. 

Boynton Health is curious to discover if there are links between sexual harassment and other health conditions such as mental health status, he said.

Golden is also co-chair of University President Eric Kaler’s Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct, which is now gathering data on how frequent incidents occur among staff and faculty, which had not been done in the past, he said. 

The resolution was passed in COGS’ general assembly and the Student Senate last week almost unanimously, Mitchell said. 

The resolution is now in the hands of University administration who will determine what actions they will take.