MSU Faculty, Staff and Students,
As we begin another spring semester at Michigan State University, we pause to remember that three years ago, 204 courageous women stepped forward over nine days in Ingham and Eaton counties to share their stories of sexual abuse. Their powerful testimonies continue to remind us that MSU failed survivors and our community. Their stories and voices challenge us to create culture change at MSU, and we know we have more work still to do.
We all want a campus climate that is safe, inclusive and one we are proud of — a climate that is vigilant in preventing sexual misconduct, one that better protects survivors and one that is inclusive of all people. We must build a climate in which all members of our campus feel emotionally and physically safe and respected.
Critical to our goal of creating a safe and supportive campus is greater accountability for employees found in violation of MSU policies. On this point, we expect the Lansing State Journal to publish a story in the coming days that likely will include references to inequities in our disciplinary processes for employees with findings of violations of our Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct (RVSM) policies. We are sharing this with you not to excuse past decisions; rather, we want you to know the actions we have taken the past few years and continue to take will improve our consistency and accountability. Changes have been made, and more work will be completed soon to address inequities in the disciplinary outcomes and further strengthen our disciplinary actions.
One significant contributing factor to lasting change has been the university’s commitment to new leadership. From ourselves as president, provost and executive vice presidents, to the leaders of Academic Human Resources, General Counsel Office, the Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance, along with many others, the university has appointed new leaders who are committed to a campuswide focus on and dedication to consistency and accountability.
Over the last three years, actions contributing to lasting change include:
Each of these actions moves the university in the right direction by creating consistency and equity within our disciplinary and accountability systems. They continue us on the path of institutional culture change, but our work is not complete with these actions. More are imminent, including:
In addition to the actions outlined above, we are looking closely at instances in which there was “no finding” of a university policy violation. There are cases in which the “no finding” of a policy violation is accurate and fair but the behavior was concerning, inappropriate and inconsistent with the university’s values. These instances of concerning behavior must be addressed to promote a healthy and safe work and educational environment for all at MSU. To that end, we are putting systems and procedures into place to address these cases on a long-term and consistent basis.
Leaders, policies and people drive change. We intend to hold our leaders to high standards and ask them to hold others to these standards as well. We also call upon the individuals and communities from throughout our great university to join in this commitment. We know people must be comfortable speaking out, that inappropriate behavior must be called out and systems put in place to prevent retaliation and ensure a fair process for all. We seek your support in these shared efforts and ask you to continue to push for enduring changes that leave our university better than we found it — for all those it serves.
Dismantling systematic barriers takes commitment and time. We thank you for your commitment and your work to help address these important issues, now and into the future.
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D.
President Provost and EVP for Academic Affairs
Melissa Woo, Ph.D. Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., M.D., MHS
EVP for Administration and EVP for Health Sciences
Chief Information Officer