Jan. 3, 2020: Letter to the community


Dear campus community,

As we continue taking actions to make our campus safer, more respectful and welcoming to all, we must do so in a transparent and accountable manner.

In that spirit, I’m pleased to provide this update on our progress in addressing relationship violence and sexual misconduct issues, including important components of our response to reviews conducted by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Recently, an updated Notice of Nondiscrimination, Anti-Harassment and Non-Retaliation Statement was posted on the university’s website as well as the websites for Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance and Office of Institutional Equity.

Based on the guidance from these federal agencies, updates also have been made to our RVSM policy. While the majority of the policy — including definitions for relationship violence, stalking, sexual misconduct and consent — remains the same, I want to draw your attention to the important changes that have been made:

  • We’ve made it clear that medical or scientific experts with an actual or perceived conflict of interest or bias are not used as experts in OIE investigations.
  • We’ve established and documented a new process for determining when OIE must reopen a previously completed investigation due to newly discovered evidence.
  • We’ve stated that the president and Board of Trustees will receive information regarding OIE complaints against employees within 30 days after the close of each semester.
  • We’ve articulated that OIE will investigate employee failures to comply with mandatory reporting requirements and send the findings to the employee’s applicable unit for disciplinary consideration.
    • As a reminder, unless otherwise noted, employees are expected to promptly report instances of relationship violence, stalking and sexual misconduct they observe or learn about involving a member of the university community or which occurred at a university-sponsored event or on university property. This is a condition of employment. I encourage you to take this opportunity to review Section X of the RVSM Policy regarding employees’ reporting obligations.

There are some other items I would like to point out:

  • University accommodation specialists, including the campus equity navigator in the Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance, are no longer mandatory reporters. These positions are responsible for assisting those affected by harassment and discrimination with accommodations and interim measures.
  • In addition, members of the LBGT Resource Center are no longer mandatory reporters. This change was supported by the RVSM Expert Advisory Workgroup to enhance confidentiality.
  • MSU provides simultaneous written notification to claimants and respondents when discipline or sanctions are imposed resulting from a finding that a student or employee violated the RVSM Policy. 
  • There is a new policy governing personnel files for faculty and staff. Personnel files will now contain a summary of final Title IX-related OIE investigation reports and determinations for employee respondents.

As part of the resolution agreement we signed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, I have been specifically asked to inform you:

The university will promptly forward all reports of sexual misconduct, stalking, and relationship violence (including Title IX reports) received by “responsible employees” of which it is aware to OIE.

In addition:

Title IX prohibits retaliation against reporters of sex discrimination, including reports of sex discrimination against administrators and other employees. MSU will independently investigate alleged retaliation for participation in the Title IX process.

These actions add to those we already have taken around our institutional organization, leadership additions and other policy and practice improvements. As always, I urge you to follow our progress in greater detail on the Our Commitment website. And I want to extend my genuine appreciation for the efforts you make in your own daily activities to support sustainable and meaningful cultural change across this institution as we confront RVSM issues.

Sincerely,

Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.

President