Working together to reduce sexual assault


The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) recently was on campus to talk with members of the campus community about sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct. Like many of our peer institutions, MSU is undergoing a comprehensive review by OCR to assure that we are responding appropriately and legally to incidents of sexual assault and other sexual misconduct. We may not hear from the OCR for many months about the results of its visit. I do not want to wait for that report to continue the campus dialogue about these issues. 

Sexual assault on college campuses is a serious national problem. A report prepared for the National Institute of Justice found that about one in five women are victims of completed or attempted sexual assault while in college. This is a sobering statistic. And the underreporting of sexual assaults is equally distressing. 

Sexual assault happens at MSU, and when it does, the impact on the survivor is profound and deeply felt. We need to do more to ensure that students—indeed, all members of our community—know when and how to report sexual misconduct. We need to ensure that all survivors, regardless of gender or sexual identity, feel comfortable reporting and have access to the full range of university resources available. We need to ensure that our outreach, training, and prevention efforts are effective. And we need the assistance of every member of our campus community to achieve those goals. 

MSU has worked hard to create a safer campus community. We have dedicated resources to educating the campus community about sexual violence and to making information and support readily available. These efforts include the Sexual Assault First-year Education Program, Sexual Assault Program (, and the Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Prevention Program (

But we can do more. While we wait to hear from the Office of Civil Rights, MSU will continue to improve its efforts to prevent, educate about, and respond to sexual harassment, sexual violence, and sexual assault.

As part of those efforts, I encourage you to provide your ideas and input to the university’s Title IX coordinator: 

Paulette Granberry Russell, JD
101 Olds Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824
(517) 353-3922

As a community of Spartans, we have the opportunity to define our own collective culture. Working together, we can say no to sexual assault, violence, and harassment at Michigan State University. 



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