Michigan State University has completed 33 tasks required through a review by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Last year, OCR found the university violated Title IX in its handling of the Larry Nassar and William Strampel cases. A letter of findings and resolution agreement between OCR and MSU laid out actions the university must take.
“A lot of hard work is happening across the university to continue our progress toward addressing relationship violence and sexual misconduct,” said MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “During my first year at the university, I tasked our expert advisory workgroup with developing a strategic plan to identify additional prevention efforts, policy updates and actions. This will continue to be a focus and priority for the university.”
Recently MSU revised its Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Policy to comply with new Title IX rules. The policy continues to prohibit conflicts of interest or bias by investigators and expert witnesses. The university also developed new stand-alone protocols for reporting possible instances of relationship violence, sexual misconduct, stalking or retaliation.
Other actions the university has taken include:
- Releasing the results of the first KNOW MORE @ MSU campus survey
- Hiring a new associate vice president of the Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance and new director of the Office of Institutional Equity
- Creating a new policy requiring the existence of final Title IX reports and determinations be included in the respondent’s personnel file
- Engaging a third-party consultant to review the Title IX investigation grievance process every six months
- Posting notices of anti-harassment, non-discrimination and non-retaliation on MSU webpages
“MSU had already made great strides prior to the completion of the federal reviews. We created the RVSM Advisory Workgroup and Prevention, Outreach and Education Department, added more counselors to the Center for Survivors, and we are currently developing a code of professional standards and behavior for faculty and staff,” said Dianne Byrum, MSU Board of Trustees chair. “These actions can’t undo the harm to sexual assault survivors, but we are working to prevent future abuse and improve the overall culture at MSU.”
One of the requirements from the agreement with the OCR was to review the actions of current and former employees connected to the Nassar and Strampel cases as they relate to applicable polices and Title IX requirements as well as to determine any appropriate discipline. The detailed reports regarding Nassar and Strampel were sent to the OCR on Sept. 1. More than 40 individuals were identified as potentially having received notice of sex discrimination by Nassar or Strampel.
In addition to the OCR, the university also has agreements with the U.S. Department of Education’s Clery Compliance Division and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights on actions the university must take to improve performance. More than 90 of those tasks are completed or in progress, all of which are available for the public to follow on the Track Our Progress webpage of MSU’s Our Commitment website.