Independent review finds Title IX policy compliant, reflects commitment

Michigan State University’s Title IX policies are compliant with all federal legal requirements and reflect a strong and genuine commitment to combatting sexual misconduct, according to an external report released today by a Kansas City law firm.

The report, commissioned by MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon in the spring and prepared by Husch Blackwell, said MSU’s policies and procedures are among the most comprehensive and robust the firm has seen.

“Conducting an independent, external review of our Title IX policies and procedures is part of our commitment to continuous improvement and dedication to develop leading-edge policies, programs and services,” Simon said. “Sexual assault continues to plague our campus and society at large. Creating change requires focused work and the discipline to sustain our efforts.”

For a copy of the report, please go to http://titleix.msu.edu/information-reports/msu_report_2017_external.pdf.

Husch Blackwell noted MSU is at the forefront of many practices including collaborative work groups with employees and students and clear penalties for employees who fail to report misconduct. In particular, the sanctioning guidelines established for violations of university policy were highlighted as a possible model for other schools to ensure measured, proportionate and consistent decisions.

As part of the review process, Husch Blackwell interviewed university officials along with students, faculty and staff. Participants noted improvements such as recent updates to the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy as well as the addition of new staff in the Office of Institutional Equality.

“I’m pleased to see the review recognize our multi-disciplinary collaborative efforts and community involvement,” said Jessica Norris, MSU’s Title IX director. “My team and I have worked hard to make the process more approachable and craft a policy that is aligned with our community needs and values.”

The report identifies some areas for improvement. The review team recommended the university reevaluate its mandatory reporting protocols and streamline the policy to make it more accessible for students and employees.

The firm was tasked with looking at five key areas: Title IX compliance, crisis and advocacy support services; prevention and education programs; awareness and outreach; and campus feedback. The Nov. 20 report reflects the first phase of the review, focusing on the policy’s compliance with Title IX. A second report addressing the remaining elements will be issued in spring 2018.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives federal funding. MSU’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy, administered by the Office of Institutional Equity, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual harassment, including gender-based harassment, sexual assault/misconduct, relationship violence and stalking. For more information, visit MSU’s Title IX website at http://titleix.msu.edu/.