Prevention of Relationship Violence, Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault

MSU’s Title IX policies are compliant with all applicable legal requirements. The law firm of Husch Blackwell reviewed MSU’s Title IX policies and procedures and in addition to finding them compliant with all applicable legal requirements, the review found MSU to be at the forefront of a number of practices. MSU is implementing a number of recommendations stemming from the review.

  • A second phase of the Husch Blackwell review, released in final form in May 2018, assessed awareness and outreach, prevention and education programs, and crisis and advocacy support services.
    • MSU’s Office of Institutional Equity held five campus climate forums prior to the release of the second phase report to solicit feedback from students and employees. Suggestions for improving communications, education, and training, with consideration of special populations, were incorporated.
    • The report recommended improving internal communications to promote awareness, increasing mental health support services, improving alignment of training, awareness, and prevention programs and clarifying responsibilities and accountability within the Title IX office. The Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance is collaborating with IT Services and with university communications units to explore new avenues for outreach.
    • Other education and training improvements underway include:
      • developing and implementing stronger and more impactful education programs for students who live on campus and their residential hall resident assistants;
      • reviewing online and in-person prevention education programs to improve effectiveness while continuing to meet compliance obligations; and
      • planning for a comprehensive Title IX campus climate survey for students, staff and faculty during the 2018-19 academic year. The survey results will provide important insights to improve resources and responses and fuel creation of prevention, outreach, and education programs.
  • Public input focused on prevention is being solicited and received by the interim president’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup through its online contact channel and through consultation with diverse campus and community groups. The workgroup is using the feedback to develop recommendations for improving MSU’s programs and practices.
  • MSU coordinated a working group to ensure consistent and connected messages about relationship violence and sexual misconduct are sent as new students transition into MSU, beginning at orientation sessions and continuing throughout the academic year.
  • All students and employees are required to complete an online training program. Both the student and employee programs focus on:
    • information to identify sex discrimination and sexual harassment, relationship violence, stalking, and sexual misconduct;
    • awareness of the impact of these issues on the campus community and encouraging community members to end these types of violence;
    • advising members of the MSU community about their rights and reporting responsibilities under the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy;
    • communicating behavioral expectations for all members of the MSU community;
    • connecting community members with support and resources that are available when issues or assaults occur; and
    • training employees on their roles in administering the policy.
  • Office of Prevention, Outreach, and Education (POE) prevention specialists develop and deliver targeted programming for international students, LGBTQ students, and students involved in the Greek system.
    • The POE "Greeks Take the Lead" in-person education program was required for all fraternity and sorority registered student organizations for the 2017-2018 academic year, resulting in the training of about 4,000 students—nearly 50 percent more than the previous year.
  • In the 2017-18 academic year, 99 percent of nearly 53,000 students and 98 percent of employees completed training on RVSM prevention and reporting. This year, in addition to online training, MSU will conduct mandatory, in-person RVSM prevention programming for all first-year and transfer students, and in-person bystander intervention training for all second-year students.
  • The Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance, in partnership with Academic Human Resources and Human Resources, launched a new leadership development training program in March 2018 for MSU supervisors and administrators focused on prevention and response to harassment and discrimination. New protocols for information sharing between campus units were introduced as part of the session content.
  • Other enhancements to education and training programs currently in planning include:
    • new education and outreach programs for student-athletes as well as Intercollegiate Athletics coaches and staff. In collaboration with Intercollegiate Athletics, these programs will include new MSU-developed educational programs and ongoing peer-facilitated dialogues;
    • new education and outreach programs to support the complex and unique needs of graduate students and graduate student employees;
    • a new high school outreach program to provide prevention education to high school students and their parents;
    • alignment of the Academic Orientation Program with Title IX prevention efforts, inclusion of resource and training materials in AOP materials, and addition of AOP sessions focused on connecting incoming students with real-life stories of students and the importance of living our Spartan values to foster a culture of safety and respect; and
    • collaborating with the Residence Hall Association and Residence Education and Housing Services to develop education programs for on-campus residents and enhance programs provided to resident assistants and other REHS employees. 
  • Students, faculty, and community partners joined a series of empowering and educational events during the "It’s On Us" Week of Action Oct. 21-27, 2018. The events were part of MSU’s commitment to prevent, respond to and raise awareness of relationship violence, sexual misconduct, sex and gender discrimination, and sexual harassment. Victims’ rights advocate Beverly Gooden, creator of the #WhyIStayed social media movement, spoke and offered employee and student workshops.
  • To institute clear institutional lines of accountability for monitoring legal, regulatory, and ethical requirements, Interim President Engler established a new office in June 2018 to complement the university’s existing internal audit functions and oversee development of a consistent ethics and compliance program and a framework for identifying, prioritizing, and managing risk.
  • Interim President Engler wrote to college deans, program directors, and department chairpersons in April 2018 to clarify the responsibilities of MSU leaders and managers with respect to employee evaluations. He urged diligence in documenting workplace behavior of concern among subordinates in personnel performance reviews.
  • New RVSM resources were added to the Spartan Resource Guide and Planner distributed to students.
  • MSU established a Youth Programs Policy in 2013, which has evolved over time with multiple revisions that are detailed online.
    • In May 2017, MSU strengthened protections for youth participating in campus programs. The university’s youth program policy has been updated to mandate that all individuals who have unsupervised access to minors are required to undergo criminal background checks within the past 12 months. This extends to any external organization using MSU facilities. New requirements are in place regarding annual trainings, reporting protocols, and transportation of minors.
  • MSU is training employees how to recognize and report child abuse. The university introduced enhanced training in March 2017 for individuals managing youth programs that includes information about mandatory reporting requirements and recognizing signs of child abuse. This training was expanded to a full-day workshop in March 2018.
  • MSU hired a Youth Program Director to help manage and oversee all youth programs. David Chupak joined MSU in November 2017 to oversee youth programs including any class, camp, program, or other learning activity held on and off campus that includes participation by minors.
    • A Youth Programs Advisory Board was established in January 2018, from multiple campus units, to consult on youth program policies and procedures.
    • Training was expanded for youth program coordinators and directors, including presentations from subject experts in policy compliance, identifying maltreatment, reporting requirements, gender equity, police response, and mental health.
    • Program compliance audits commenced in summer 2018.
    • Youth program policy revisions are in process, covering topics that include one-on-one adult/youth exposure and electronic communications. New requirements will include application of industry guidelines for supervisor-to-youth ratios. Consequences for non-compliance with youth protection policies will be clarified.
    • A new youth program registration, safety assurance, and education program website was launched to assist youth program directors and coordinators with their efforts to protect minors.
    • Handbook templates containing uniform program requirements are being developed, including the topics of central policies, communication processes, and conduct rules for program participants.
    • Over 127 youth programs serving over 60,000 participants annually registered with the MSU Office of the Director of Youth Programs by August. Program registration deadlines will be set and a new software will be implemented in the 2018-2019 academic year to register youth programs to allow more efficient program tracking.
    • Other program personnel trainings that have been facilitated include behavioral interviewing practices to prevent child maltreatment, implicit bias awareness, and surviving active shooter situations. Additional training programs for MSU youth program directors on youth protection topics, such as addressing cyber-bullying, are planned for the 2018-2019 academic year.
    • The annual Youth Protection Workshop was expanded to a full-day program in March 2018, and training was expanded for youth program coordinators and directors, including presentations from subject experts in policy compliance, identifying maltreatment, reporting requirements, gender equity, police response, and mental health.