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At the University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting on Thursday, University president Mark Schlissel presented new initiatives to combat sexual misconduct on campus. The programs include mandatory sexual misconduct training for all faculty and staff and a new website with information on reporting sexual misconduct and educational resources.
The initiatives were the result of the Working Group on Faculty and Staff Sexual Misconduct investigations into current University policies on misconduct. The group published their findings online today; suggestions include the website, increased education and wording changes to show a more formal commitment to combating sexual misconduct on campus.
The committee was co-chaired by Laurita Thomas, associate vice president for human resources, and former U-M Dearborn Chancellor Daniel Little.
Schlissel said the University community has a stake in fighting sexual misconduct and encourage those who have experienced misconduct to report incidents.
Previously, staff and faculty had the option of participating in already existing sexual misconduct training. After the group’s recommendations, all training will be mandatory for all staff and faculty. University Provost Martin Philbert said education on how to recognize and prevent sexual misconduct is a good first step for improving campus culture and reducing misconduct cases.
“The University’s mission of education, research and service requires that every member of our community feels welcomed, valued and able to work free from the threat of sexual misconduct,” Philbert said. “Sexual misconduct is a very serious matter, something that we seek to prevent and that we are committed to addressing immediately and effectively should it occur. Our work to prevent and address such misconduct begins with education.”
This announcement comes two weeks after the release of Office for Institutional Equity’s yearly Sexual Misconduct Report which reported an increase in sexual misconduct reports but a decrease in investigations launched by the University compared to previous data. According to the publication, reports went up from 218 to 277 while investigations went down from 28 the previous year to 20.
Previously, the University appeared 12 times in a crowdsourced spreadsheet documenting sexual harassment and assault cases involving staff and faculty members. The anonymous sources cited instances such as unwelcome advances, comments and sexual assault cases at the University, some dating back to the 80s.