Fostering a Safer Campus

Michigan State University is committed to achieving the highest standards in assuring patient care and safety; preventing relationship violence and sexual misconduct; providing supportive services to students, staff and faculty experiencing these issues; and responding in a trauma-informed manner to reports of such incidents. The university is working with internal and external experts to address campus climate and culture by improving policies, procedures, programs and operations.

Actions in Progress

  • The Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup is developing a strategic plan for changing campus culture through prevention efforts, policy updates and resource development. This plan will be closely connected to both the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategic planning process and the university’s strategic planning process. It will build upon the actions the committee already has taken since its inception.
  • A new policy is being developed to address what is considered conduct unbecoming of faculty, which is behavior not consistent with our expectations for conduct but that doesn’t violate existing RVSM and anti-discrimination policies.
  • The university will empanel a task force to develop a framework for consistency on disciplinary actions and outcomes across all employees based on new and identified best practices. A revision to the Discipline and Dismissal of Tenured Faculty for Cause Policy is being considered, which will stipulate that disciplinary decisions are made by the dean, in consultation with Academic Human Resources and the unit administrator. This will elevate and centralize decision-making to enhance consistency.
  • The university is conducting a historical review of faculty and academic staff with sustained violations of the RVSM policy to determine potential emeritus status revocation.
  • An ad-hoc faculty committee is exploring a policy for the revocation of honors and awards in cases of misconduct.
  • A new professional standards policy is being developed, outlining expectations for faculty and academic staff as a foundation to ensure a culture in which all feel valued, respected and included.
  • A process is underway to formalize leadership development frameworks that provide a clear, shared understanding of what is expected of leaders and offer opportunities for recruiting strong, diverse candidates into leadership positions.
  • New training standards for unit administrators are being developed to equip leaders with tools and resources for addressing conflict, bystander intervention, norm-setting, power dynamics and expectations of faculty behavior.
  • To improve hiring practices across higher education, MSU is exploring policies requiring faculty job candidates to provide information about being the subject of a prior or current misconduct investigation and guidance to units on conducting related reference checks.

Respect

We are working to strengthen a culture of care and respect along with the foundational values we embrace as part of our land-grant heritage. We are taking actions that support and strengthen our commitment to our community; relationship violence and sexual misconduct are not tolerated at MSU.

  • 2019: Results from the Know More @ MSU campuswide survey show undergraduate students of all genders experience high rates of sexual harassment. Likewise, faculty and staff of all genders experience workplace incivility throughout their careers at MSU.
  • 2019: President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., in conjunction with the RVSM Workgroup, meets with sexual assault survivors to listen to their concerns and input about needed improvements at the university.
  • 2019: Two RVSM adviser positions are established, reporting directly to the president to provide guidance and make strategic recommendations.
  • 2019: The “Finding Our Voice: Sister Survivors Speak” special exhibit at the MSU Museum is developed in collaboration with sexual assault survivors to chronicle survivors’ continuing struggle in calling public attention to sexual violence and to promote dignity, healing and positive transformation.
  • 2019: The Prevention, Outreach and Education Department hosts the first Creating Change through Collaboration Summit for MSU faculty, staff and graduate students to discuss the impact of sexual assault and violence and how to address RVSM issues within their respective programs.
  • 2019: The 2018-19 fiscal year budget includes funding for more than 35 staff positions in the Center for Survivors (formerly the Sexual Assault Program); Counseling and Psychiatric Services; MSU Police Department; Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance; and Office of Audit, Risk and Compliance (formerly the Office of Enterprise Risk Management, Ethics and Compliance).
  • 2018: The RVSM Expert Advisory Workgroup develops a trauma-informed meetings resource guide, which provides concrete suggestions for how to work with RVSM survivors to obtain their input on services, programs and policies.
  • 2018: The Self-Disclosure Requirement of Unprofessional/Criminal Conduct Policy is created, requiring all faculty and academic staff to disclose certain misconduct or criminal events during their employment.
  • 2018: The RVSM Expert Advisory Workgroup is established to make ongoing recommendations to the president for improving RVSM-related programs, protocols and policies.

Prevent

Safety for our students and the campus community is our highest priority. To maintain a fair, humane and responsible learning and working environment for all students, faculty, staff and visitors, we have taken measures to strengthen accountability and to provide additional training and resources.

  • 2020: The RVSM and Title IX Policy is updated, including clear definitions of prohibited conduct in alignment with community expectations as to what constitutes relationship violence, sexual misconduct and stalking as well as prohibited conduct under Title IX.
  • 2020: A new Personnel File Policy is implemented to outline what is considered a complete, accurate and current record of an employee’s employment history, including requiring all findings resulting from the investigation process related to Title IX be placed in the applicable employee respondent’s central personnel and departmental file, whether or not there is a finding of a violation.
  • 2020: A training series on creating and sustaining a respectful work environment is developed to assist university leaders in improving the current climate and culture in their units and across the greater campus community.
  • 2019: The process for dean reviews is revised to create standard materials, allow for feedback to be submitted anonymously and institute a requirement for a first-year review to be completed by faculty and academic staff.
  • 2019: The Consensual Amorous or Sexual Relationship with Students Policy is updated to include a presumptive ban on consensual amorous or sexual relationships between undergraduate students and faculty/staff.
  • 2019: The new Travel Lodging Policy prohibits employees from sharing hotel rooms with students as well as supervisors and subordinates from sharing hotel rooms while on university travel.
  • 2019: The Office of the Executive Vice President for Health Sciences is created to increase safety and quality of care by aligning the university’s health colleges, clinical practices and student wellness programs.
  • 2018: The Know More campaign launches to promote awareness of the resources available to those in the campus community who are affected by sexual misconduct, relationship violence and stalking.
  • 2018: The new Office of Audit, Risk and Compliance is created to continue the development of the MSU ethics and compliance program with a strong framework for identifying, prioritizing and managing risk. This includes revising the university’s policies to provide clear ethical principles and behavioral expectations for all MSU employees.
  • 2018: Student-athletes begin receiving targeted training about RVSM as well as anti-harassment from the Prevention, Outreach and Education Department.
  • 2018: The Prevention, Outreach and Education Department is created to promote safety and improve quality of life by educating members of the MSU campus community about sexual assault and relationship violence, eliminating violence on campus and empowering staff, faculty and students to become advocates for a nonviolent community and positively affecting social change. More than 70,000 students and employees were trained in the first year.
  • 2018: MSU Health Care replaces the MSU HealthTeam as a separate 501(c)(3) organization to nurture a culture of safety, foster a more comprehensive and cost-efficient clinical practice and increase research opportunities.
  • 2018: A report by Husch Blackwell finds MSU’s Title IX policies reflect a strong and genuine commitment to combatting sexual misconduct and identifies opportunities for reframing prevention and education programs, enhancing mental health services and increasing awareness of available resources to the campus community.
  • 2017: All faculty, staff and students are required to participate in training about RVSM prevention and reporting that is tailored to whether they are a student or employee.
  • 2017: Updates are made to the General Student Regulations 2.0 to make it clear that if students violate certain university regulations, they may be held accountable through MSU’s conduct system, regardless of where the activity occurs.
  • 2017: The new Youth Programs Director begins providing training to anyone managing youth programs on campus that includes information about reporting requirements, reporting methods and recognizing signs of child abuse. Also, camp leaders complete specialized training for their staff.
  • 2017: MSU Health Care (formerly MSU HealthTeam) implements a new consent-to-treat form and chaperone policy that requires chaperones for sensitive treatments when minors are involved.
  • 2017: A report by Willis Towers Watson finds MSU Health Care’s (formerly MSU HealthTeam) medical policies and procedures reflect accepted and reliable best practices and focus on caring and patient safety.
  • 2017: A report by Husch Blackwell finds MSU’s Title IX policies are compliant with all federal legal requirements and notes MSU is at the forefront of many practices.

Respond

We have reviewed our policies, brought together experts to guide our work and realigned our operations — all with a focus on being more responsive to instances of relationship violence and sexual misconduct.

  • 2020: The Sexual Assault Health Care Program launches, providing free, 24/7, first-response medical care to survivors of sexual assault at a newly constructed medical facility within the MSU Center for Survivors. The program is the first of its kind on a college campus.
  • 2020: A formal protocol is put in place to establish a clear line of communication between the MSU Police Department and human resources units to ensure serious allegations of criminal conduct by faculty and staff are documented and acted upon using the existing administrative remedies.
  • 2020: Following an independent review of the university’s Title IX processes and policies, Cozen O’Connor notes that MSU has dedicated significant resources to the effective implementation of Title IX requirements and that such steps are vitally important to the continuation of a responsive and effective Title IX Program.
  • 2019: Staffed by sexual assault intervention volunteers 12 hours a day, seven days a week, the Center for Survivors Crisis Chat is created to support survivors, their friends and family. In addition, the MSU School of Social Work receives a grant from the National Institute of Justice to conduct a collaborative evaluation of the crisis line.
  • 2019: The Emeritus Policy is revised to include a provision that faculty members must be in good standing to be granted emeritus status upon retiring as well as a provision for revocation of emeritus status if behavior is deemed to be substantially inconsistent with MSU’s expectations for faculty and academic staff.
  • 2019: The Office of Institutional Equity begins using new case management software, greatly increasing the accuracy of record keeping.
  • 2019: Following a ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court, a hearing process is created as part of RVSM-related cases to honor the due process rights of the claimant and respondent.
  • 2019: A disciplinary actions protocol worksheet is developed to ensure considerations and actions taken in the disciplinary process are thoroughly and accurately documented.
  • 2018: The MSU Police Department creates a position for a trauma-informed investigative training coordinator to develop a comprehensive program on law enforcement investigations into relationship violence and sexual assault on a trauma-informed and victim-centered basis.
  • 2018: A position for a climate response specialist is created in the Prevention, Outreach and Education Department to assist with ongoing workplace improvement, including training on reporting and OIE processes.
  • 2018: Counseling and Psychiatric Services opens a second location at the MSU Student Union to expand counseling capacity and accessibility for students.
  • 2018: The Discipline and Dismissal of Tenured Faculty for Cause Policy is updated to provide greater discretion on determining the status of a faculty member during the process and to prohibit faculty from officially retiring from MSU once written charges are filed. In addition, a faculty member who is dismissed for cause is not eligible for official retiree status.
  • 2018: The MSU Police Department and the Office of Institutional Equity implemented a new protocol to ensure that police notify OIE when investigating RVSM complaints.
  • 2018: The factors and discipline matrix is created to determine appropriate sanctions following sustained reports of faculty misconduct.
  • 2018: The Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance is created, which reports directly to the president. No outside units or individuals, including the President’s Office, have the authority to influence the investigative process. The number of staff in the office has doubled since its inception.
  • 2018: Academic Human Resources and the Office of Institutional Equity establishes notification protocols to alert human resource staff, deans and chairs when there is an alleged report of misconduct in their units, allowing for leaders to take interim employment actions if necessary. AHR also establishes guidance protocols outlining the items to consider and the steps to take in determining interim actions.
  • 2015: Mandatory reporting of RVSM-related incidents is established as a requirement of employment.