Responding to Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault

In addition to the two, strong, survivor-support programs we have had on campus for many years—the MSU Sexual Assault Program and MSU Safe Place—we have dedicated significant new resources to strengthen our efforts to combat sexual and relationship violence. We have made significant strides. Nonetheless, sexual assault and relationship violence are still problems on our campus and in society at large. It is clear that more needs to be done so that when prevention fails, we are able to act decisively to assist victims.

  • The University Policy on Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct is clear: Michigan State University is committed to maintaining a learning and working environment for all students, faculty, and staff that is fair, humane, and responsible—an environment that supports career and educational advancement on the basis of job and academic performance. Relationship violence, stalking, and sexual misconduct are not tolerated at Michigan State University. 
  • Interim President John Engler convened the MSU Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup, composed of campus leaders with deep expertise in the areas of sexual assault and relationship violence. The workgroup is tasked with gathering ideas and input from students, faculty, staff, and alumni and working closely with other organizations, committees, and units on campus. They bring diverse viewpoints to the table as the workgroup advises the president on policies and programs to make MSU a national model of safety and inclusiveness for all.
  • The workgroup quickly recommended increasing the number of therapists and victim advocates in the MSU Sexual Assault Program, or MSU SAP, to meet increasing demands for services. The workgroup collaborated with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to secure grant funding through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to create four full-time positions for MSU SAP, including two therapists and two victim advocates. MSU is also funding an additional full-time crisis counselor.
    • MSU SAP is a primary resource on campus for student sexual assault survivors, and the demand for services has risen sharply in recent years. Last year, MSU SAP served over 650 clients and provided individual therapy to nearly 300 MSU students with a clinical staff of five therapists, one crisis counselor and one victim advocate. The new MSU and VOCA-funded positions will increase MSU SAP’s capacity to meet current and future levels of demand for services.
  • The workgroup also recommended creation of the Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance to oversee the Office of Institutional Equity and the Title IX Prevention, Outreach, and Education Office, which is dedicated to the outreach, education, and prevention of sex and gender discrimination, including relationship violence, sexual misconduct, and stalking.
    • Feedback from the MSU community and external reviewers indicated a need to clarify and streamline OIE processes, and to improve communication with both claimants and respondents. As non-investigatory staff, the new service coordinators will serve as primary points of contact for claimants and respondents, ensuring that OIE investigators can focus solely on conducting thorough, neutral investigations.
    • The reorganization improves investigatory capabilities and the capacity to deliver prevention, education, and outreach programs. Five positions have been created:
      • Two service coordinators to provide resources for claimants and respondents, and help navigate OIE processes, including interim measures and investigations;
      • A data analyst to identify trends in reporting and provide data support to prevention, outreach, and education efforts;
      • An OIE case manager to review incident reports, assign cases to OIE investigators, and oversee case flow to improve timeliness of investigations;
      • And an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator—previously combined with the Title IX coordinator role, the ADA coordinator will now be a dedicated, full-time position.
      • An additional OIE investigator will also be hired, bringing the total number of OIE investigators to 10.
    • The new Title IX Prevention, Outreach, and Education Office will be dedicated to the broad-based prevention of sex and gender discrimination, including relationship violence, sexual misconduct, and stalking. The office will also focus on outreach—in alignment with MSU’s land-grant mission—and education, emphasizing our commitment to cultural change through increased knowledge and awareness. The new office will be staffed by six new positions, including five prevention specialists:
      • Faculty/staff education and community outreach specialist;
      • Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence program and specialized workshop specialist;
      • Bystander network specialist;
      • Graduate and professional student outreach and education specialist;
      • And a male engagement specialist.
      • Before this change, MSU had one full-time employee dedicated to prevention programming. The new office increases staffing and resources for prevention, outreach, and education. Specialized positions were created to address gaps in programming based on feedback from the MSU community and recommendations from the Husch Blackwell Phase 2 Preliminary Report.
    • The MSU Police Department and the Office of Institutional Equity have implemented a new protocol to ensure that police notify OIE when investigating relationship violence, stalking, or sexual misconduct complaints.
      • The new reporting protocol will enable full communication and accountability between these two MSU units. The protocol will also ensure all victims receive information about campus resources and options from OIE. Previously, MSU policy required OIE to report incidents to MSU police, without a reciprocal protocol for reporting from MSU police to OIE. 
      • Additionally, interlocal agreements bring local police agencies in East Lansing, Meridian, Bath, and Lansing townships and the Michigan State Police into our system so that MSU gains awareness of off-campus misconduct or assaults.
    • MSU has strengthened its policy on mandatory reporting obligations. As part of an annual review of its Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy, MSU enhanced the policy to address violations of mandatory reporting obligations. Employees who fail to report sexual assault allegations as required by the policy are subject to discipline, up to and including termination.
  • MSU has hired Kroll, a leading global independent, third-party investigative services firm, to assist with investigations and reduce the response time for complaints filed under MSU’s Title IX Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy. Investigators will be used, as needed, to handle complex complaints and to reduce the time between filing and finding.
  • Discussions began to better coordinate complaints directed to the Office of Institutional Equity, MSU Police and/or the MSU Hotline, which is supported by the Office of Internal Audit. It is crucial that appropriate MSU leaders are rapidly informed of complaints that may have an adverse effect on patient safety so interventions can take place quickly.
  • The MSU HealthTeam CEO met with MSU Police to ensure a safer environment for patients and staff. MSU Police are taking over incident reporting at the Eyde clinical buildings from the Meridian Township Police Department to prevent gaps in complaint reporting. MSU Police are also increasing patrols in our clinics as well as providing staff training.
    • The MSU HealthTeam is obtaining proposals from independent peer review experts to assist with the review of sensitive cases.

The MSU HealthTeam also is evaluating replacement systems for its incident reporting system. The current system reports incidents, but we need to have the ability to follow up and “close the loop” for reporting purposes.

 

Resources and Information

Title IX Program
Title IX Annual Report
Policy: Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct
Mandatory Reporting Guide
Larry Nassar Information
Student Claimant Resource Guide
Frequently Asked Questions