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Resolution agreement regarding the Office of Civil Rights findings (Sept. 1, 2015)

On Sept. 1, 2015, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights released its findings of its review of Michigan State University’s handling of Title IX complaints. Read a copy of the OCR resolution agreement with MSU, along with responses from MSU in green.

Below is a fact sheet regarding the findings:

  • The OCR’s main findings focused on two issues: Timeliness and file documentation. MSU, as OCR acknowledges, has made significant improvements in these areas since the investigation began.
  • Since creation of the Office of Institutional Equity in April 2015 and through Aug. 28th, MSU has completed 42 formal investigations and made 78 informal contacts with claimants.
  • Most of the OCR findings relate to outdated MSU policies. Investigators reviewed files and policies from 2009-2014. MSU completely revised its sexual misconduct and relationship violence policies during the 2014-2015 academic year, and current policy revisions address all of OCR’s concerns.
  • The OCR report found there could have been a sexually hostile environment for some students and staff during 2011-2014. OCR did not issue a finding of a campus-wide hostile environment affecting all students and employees.
  • The OCR investigation was based on three student complaints. One was closed after finding the student was not subjected to a hostile environment or retaliation. For the other two, OCR found MSU should have been timelier in its investigations; however, the OCR found the MSU investigations conducted were thorough, impartial and equitable.
  • The OCR thoroughly investigated the three student complaints. Concerns about other student and employee files were based on a review of grievance files and policies in place at the time. No further investigation or interviews were conducted regarding those matters.
  • OCR received approximately 150 files for review and expressed concern in its findings about 30 of those files. In expressing concern, OCR acknowledged the university might have taken additional action that was no documented in the files reviewed.
  • From 2004 to 2014, MSU saw a 65 percent increase in the number of students who said they received information from the Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence program. In the latest data from the National College Health Assessment survey, 76 percent of MSU students report receiving information about sexual assault resources, compared with a national average of 57 percent.
  • MSU Police have made numerous changes to how they approach sexual assault and relationship violence, including creation of a special victim’s unit, specialized training from national trauma experts, and signing memorandums of understanding with fellow police departments.