By Michael Sugerman, Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 3, 2014
Late Monday evening, the Central Student Government has created an executive taskforce to examine the University’s relatively new sexual misconduct policy and review its implementation in Brendan Gibbons’ permanent seperation.
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According to documents reviewed by The Michigan Daily, Gibbons was permanently separated from the University in late December after being found responsible for a 2009 violation of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Business senior Michael Proppe, CSG president, signed an executive order Monday night establishing the taskforce to probe into actions taken by the Office of Student Conflict Resolution in Gibbons’ case.
“Following The Daily’s articles, there was a lot of confusion among students and across the entire University community about how exactly this new sexual misconduct policy works, and how it works with respect to cases that took place under the old policy,” Proppe said.
The University changed its sexual misconduct policy in September 2013, shifting from a complaint-driven model to one propelled by University investigators.
Law student Jeremy Keeney, CSG student general counsel, said the University now pursues all cases of sexual misconduct regardless of whether or not the victim desires an investigation.
“The old policy is more sexual assault-based and the new policy broadens that to sexual misconduct,” Keeney said. “So it seems that there may be things that are included in the new policy that weren’t in the old one.”
Proppe added that the University’s policy in 2009--the year Gibbons allegedly violated the code of conduct--required “clear and convincing evidence” to take action, whereas the 2013 policy seeks “preponderance of evidence.” He added that this is a “much lower standard.”
One of the taskforce’s goals is to determine which policy was applied in Gibbons’ removal from the University. Others include inquiring as to whether or not OSCR delayed the investigation into Gibbons’ alleged misconduct, and whether or not the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities was applied properly throughout OSCR’s investigation.
Public Policy junior Bobby Dishell, CSG vice president, will lead the taskforce, which will also include Keeney and LSA sophomore Meagan Shokar, speaker of the CSG assembly.
Per a provision in the Code of Conduct, Keeney will have exclusive access to “review all confidential and non-confidential OSCR documents pertaining to investigations of students for violations of the Statement … and/or the student sexual misconduct policy,” according to a CSG press release.
Although the taskforce’s final report may have to redact specific documents, Proppe said Keeney’s review work will allow CSG to draw conclusions with regard to OSCR’s proceedings in the Gibbons case and release these to the student body.
The executive order comes in the midst of CSG initiatives to increase administrative transparency and reevaluate the student code of conduct. Recently, the assembly unanimously passed a resolution asking the administration to give the body the power to screen all proposed amendments to the Statement.
For the last month, the CSG resolutions committee has also been considering substantive changes to the code of conduct and plans to propose a number of amendments for vote in the assembly Feb. 4, Keeney said.
“I don’t necessarily see this case as any impetus for changes to the Statement,” Proppe said. “We were looking for changes to that process regardless of this. But we are going to take a look at how the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities is applied, and how does it apply when policies are changing.”