Mich. State to Change How It Handles Sexual Violence, Harassment Cases

Michigan State University will undergo a series of policy and procedure changes to further comply with Title IX.

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that it resolved its investigation of two sexual violence complaints filed against Michigan State University on September 1.

The university has entered into a resolution agreement to correct violations found during OCR’s investigation and the OCR feels the university has taken important positive steps to provide and maintain a safe learning environment for everyone on campus.

The OCR had been investigating two complaints filed by students and determined that the university violated Title IX for the following reasons:

  • It did not promptly investigate the two complaints, although the university’s investigations of both complaints ultimately were thorough and equitable;
  • It operated noncompliant grievance procedures, had an inadequate notice of nondiscrimination, and failed to appropriately notify students and employees of the identity of the Title IX coordinator; and
  • Its failure to address complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence in a prompt and equitable manner caused and may have contributed to a continuation of a sexually hostile environment for numerous students and staff on campus during the years covered by OCR’s investigation (2009 to 2014).

Both before and during the OCR’s investigation, the university made revisions to its Title IX policies and procedures in an effort to correct several Title IX compliance concerns. The resolution commits the university to implement extensive remedies to address the concerns OCR identified. Under the terms of the agreement, the university will, among other things:

  • Issue a public anti-harassment statement to all members of the campus community encouraging students to report sexual harassment to the Title IX coordinator.
  • Train its staff biannually on revised procedures, how to recognize sexual harassment and how to properly conduct and document future Title IX investigations.
  • Ensure the university maintains documentation regarding sex discrimination complaints, including complaints of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence, and the university’s handling of those complaints.
  • Provide mandatory online training to all university students regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault/violence and to offer a series of in-person information sessions to students that cover similar topics.
  • Review and revise any and all university training materials used to train student athletes with respect to matters involving sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual violence.
  • Develop a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the university police, and revise its MOU with the East Lansing police and other local law enforcement agencies; and provide the university police with Title IX training.
  • Conduct resource assessments and add relevant staff as needed in to order promptly and equitably respond to Title IX complaints.
  • Create a committee comprised of representatives from various students groups and university faculty and staff to meet and identify strategies for ensuring that students understand their rights under Title IX; how to report possible violations of Title IX; and to identify strategies for the prevention of sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual violence.
  • Provide annual training to students who are members of sororities or fraternities in the campus area that covers topics related to sex discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual assault/violence.
  • Examine past grievance files, evaluate whether the grievances were properly handled and assess whether any additional action or remedies are warranted. Offer to provide remedies to individuals to address any harm they incurred as a result of the university’s delay in processing their complaints.
  • Evaluate the safety of certain areas of campus to ensure the areas have sufficient lighting and emergency phones.

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