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March 23, 2018

Engler takes quick action to address campus community concerns about sexual assault programs

Shortly after the release of a preliminary report evaluating the effectiveness of Title IX-related education and prevention programs, and based on recommendations from the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup, Michigan State University Interim President John Engler is announcing the creation of the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance.

The new executive office will oversee the Office of Institutional Equity, or OIE, responsible for investigating civil rights and Title IX complaints, and the Title IX Prevention, Outreach and Education Office, responsible for prevention, education and outreach efforts. The new office will coordinate with MSU entities that provide crisis and advocacy services to survivors of sexual assault and relationship violence.

“We are greatly expanding our capabilities to investigate reported civil rights and Title IX incidents and deliver effective prevention, education and outreach programs to foster broader culture change at MSU,” Engler said. “We heard the feedback loud and clear and are taking immediate steps to be more efficient and effective.”

Jessica Norris, currently MSU’s Title IX director, is being promoted to associate vice president for the new executive office. In addition, 12 new positions are being created, mostly in the areas of prevention, outreach and education. The roles will be posted as soon as possible to recruit qualified individuals eager to make a difference, including a national search for the new director of OIE.

“This new office will go a long way in providing additional clarity within our community about responsibility for civil rights and Title IX-related activities. Not only will the office’s structure better align our university with national recommendations, it also helps simplify the internal coordination needed to take holistic, strategic approaches to these important issues,” Norris said. “I am pleased to take on this challenge.”

The new positions also include additional investigators and a case manager to address bottlenecks in the investigation process. New service coordinator positions will directly address community concerns about accessing support services during the investigations.

“The Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup is working hard to promote culture change on campus so we are very happy to see this new office and structure,” said Rebecca Campbell, chairperson of the workgroup and psychology professor. “We feel these changes will provide better services to students and improve MSU’s ability to address community concerns.”

Earlier this week Husch Blackwell released the second of two reports evaluating MSU’s Title IX program. A copy of the preliminary report is available on the Title IX website. To help finalize the report, the Sexual Violence Advisory Committee and Husch Blackwell are hosting Campus Climate Forums on March 25 and 26. Participants will have the opportunity to provide reactions to the preliminary report and additional feedback on the programs, efforts and services to the external review team. Visit Reflect, Connect, Support for information about the events.

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 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual harassment, including gender-based harassment, sexual assault/misconduct, relationship violence and stalking.