Report: MSU mishandled sexual assault cases

A report released today by the federal government says Michigan State University is responsible for making campus a "sexually hostile environment."
 
The report examined six years of collective data that ultimately says the university did not properly handle complaints of sexual misconduct. 
 
The findings were announced Tuesday as part of an agreement between Michigan State and the federal government to fix these problems and move forward.

"Sexual assault and harassment are serious problems in society and on college campuses, including ours," President Lou Anna K. Simon said. "No member of our community should be threatened by sexual violence, and we have made a commitment to be part of a larger societal conversation on this issue. We have been constantly making improvements, using various inputs to be better tomorrow than we are today."
 
The report, which was filed by the Education Office of civil rights, found that the university was not timely enough in addressing two Title XI cases.

With help of the Feds, MSU is changing their policies on sexual harassment and misconduct, so more students will feel safe and comfortable to speak up if they are mistreated by another student or faculty member on campus.
 
"We continue to do an honest assessment of where we are and where we want to be," Simon said. "We have made many changes, and we have devoted significant resources in addressing concerns. But we fully realize our work is not complete; we must continue to vigorously pursue all avenues for improvement."

Some of those changes include:
*Adopting in January 2015 a revised and expanded Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy.
 
*Creating a standalone unit, the Office of Institutional Equity, to handle all discrimination complaints, including sexual assault and relationship violence. That includes the hiring of several new investigators.
 
*Implementing mandatory training for all MSU faculty and staff.
 
*Creating an MSU Sexual Assault Task Force, which met throughout 2014 and 2015 and submitted recommendations to the president, which will continue to be built on going forward.
 
Moving forward this fall, MSU will be following through on several initiatives, including:

*In mid-September, the university will receive the results of a sexual assault climate survey administered in April by the Association of American Universities. Those results will help guide decisions and policies regarding sexual assault in the campus community.
 
*MSU will be forming a new sexual violence advisory council, with representation from across campus.
 
*Revisions are in the process of being made to the student conduct review panels that hear cases involving sexual assault and relationship violence.
 
*MSU will begin a series of dialogue sessions focused on current events, such as sexual assault on college campuses, to create a space for students to express thoughts and feelings as a way to construct meaning around some of the larger issues playing out in society.
 
 
 
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