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Response to LSJ articles on Title IX investigations (Dec. 15, 2016)

Message from the president

“Sexual assault is a serious problem on college campuses, and ours is no exception. The recent LSJ articles explained some of the challenges and complexities in handling Title IX investigations of relationship violence and sexual misconduct. The stories also mentioned the significant steps we have taken to improve our procedures since these cases occurred.

"These cases are often complex, and we are committed to making the best decisions with the best information we have available to us. And we are steadfast in that commitment to make this process work more effectively and compassionately for all involved.”

-Lou Ann K. Simon, MSU President

Media statement

“As the Lansing State Journal’s Dec. 15 articles on sexual assault and Title IX investigations show, these types of crimes have an enormous and irrefutable impact.

"While it is imperative these incidents are reported to police so they can be investigated, universities also have a responsibility under Title IX to investigate allegations of relationship violence and sexual misconduct and determine whether any campus policies have been violated.

"As the LSJ articles noted, sexual assault complaints are complex and challenging to investigate and adjudicate. Universities must provide a neutral, timely process that is fair to both parties. While MSU cannot discuss the details of any individual case due to both federal privacy laws and our own respect for the privacy of those involved, we acknowledge the difficulties and frustrations felt by those who go through the Title IX process.

"Since 2011, we have made significant changes in how we handle and adjudicate these complaints. We have been constantly making improvements, using reviews of best practices and various inputs, including surveying campus community members. Specifically, we have:

  • Created the Office of Institutional Equity, whose responsibility is to investigate sexual assault and harassment complaints.
  • More than doubled the number of Title IX investigators.
  • Significantly reduced the time to complete investigations for these cases by about 50 percent.
  • Expanded the resources we have in place to ensure survivors receive the support they need and deserve, including doubling the number of staff in our Sexual Assault Program at the MSU Counseling Center.
  • Revised all of our polices into a new Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy.
  • Implemented new and innovative methods to enhance our prevention and education efforts, including new online training for all students and creating bystander intervention networks with the help of state grants.
"We fully realize we must continue to vigorously pursue all avenues for improvement. We owe that to every member of our community.”

-Jason Cody, MSU spokesperson