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Dec. 16, 2022

MSU completes 95 actions from federal Title IX reviews

Michigan State University Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. today announced the university has completed 95 actions on schedule from the 2019 resolution agreements between MSU and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights.

These resolution agreements were put in place in response to federal investigations into the handling of the Larry Nassar and William Strampel cases.

“I am proud of MSU’s work to not only bring ourselves into compliance with federal regulations, but to go above and beyond to change our culture on campus as it relates to Title IX and relationship violence and sexual misconduct,” said Woodruff. “However, as pleased as we are to reach this milestone, we know our work is far from over, and I look forward to strengthening our commitment to foster a safer campus.”

The only substantive action that remains incomplete is contingent on the Dept. of Ed. OCR’s availability to train MSU leaders.

President Emeritus Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. appointed an expert committee who oversaw the progress of the changes, giving monthly updates through a dashboard and scorecards housed on the Our Commitment website. Members of the committee include:

  • Marilyn Tarrant, committee chair and associate vice president for the Office of Audit, Risk and Compliance
  • Michael Brown, university physician
  • Rebecca Campbell, co-chair of the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup, psychology professor and special adviser to the president on RVSM issues
  • Andrea Munford, co-chair of the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Expert Advisory Workgroup, deputy chief of the MSU Department of Police and Public Safety and special adviser to the president on RVSM issues
  • Shannon Torres, associate general counsel

“Prior to the resolution agreements, MSU was taking steps toward some of the actions recommended,” said Tarrant. “This oversight committee worked closely with several units to streamline, monitor and ensure completion of these action items. It was a campuswide commitment and a true team effort.”

Some of the more notable actions outlined in the agreement that have been completed include:

  • Updating the RVSM and Title IX Policy, including clear definitions of prohibited conduct in alignment with community expectations as to what constitutes relationship violence, sexual misconduct and stalking as well as prohibited conduct under Title IX. 
  • Hiring the Cozen O’Connor law firm to complete independent reviews of the Title IX-related grievance process and final determinations of Title IX related matters for three academic years, noting that MSU has dedicated significant resources to the effective implementation of Title IX requirements and that such steps are vitally important to the continuation of a responsive and effective Title IX Program.
  • Creating a new policy requiring the existence of final Title IX reports and determinations be included in the respondent’s personnel file.
  • Developing and implementing a training program for MSU Health Care staff on topics such as the university’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Policy, University Reporting Protocol and resources to support survivors.
  • Updating the Operational Requirements for Conducting University Youth Programs that documents previously developed procedures and practices that advance a culture of safety for university youth program participants, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2023.
  • Posting notices of anti-harassment, non-discrimination and non-retaliation on MSU webpages.

To further identify gaps in relationship violence and sexual misconduct prevention and response, MSU launched a five-year Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Strategic Plan, based on a biennial survey assessing MSU’s climate. The recommendations of this plan are well underway.

Woodruff intends to be a champion for this plan and the other strategic planning efforts as she prioritizes building trust, affirming transparency and advancing strategic initiatives.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to cultivating a safe and inclusive university characterized by care and respect for others,” said Woodruff.

A detailed list of actions completed by MSU to enhance Title IX practices can be found on Our Commitment.

By: Chris Chapman