A United States district judge approved the settlement reached between the University of Michigan and attorneys representing U-M students in March. The settlement involves the establishment of the Coordinated Community Response Team (CCRT), which is meant to increase protection against sexual misconduct in the U-M community.
Recent university alum Josephine Graham filed the lawsuit in May 2021 against the University on the grounds that the University does not maintain or properly enforce sufficient policies and procedures for preventing and responding to sexual misconduct on campus. The lawsuit did not seek monetary relief.
The class action lawsuit is different from the $490 million settlement reached between survivors of the late athletic Doctor Robert Anderson and the University in January. Graham claimed in a previous press conference that the CCRT was the “capstone” of the settlement.
The University has faced similar allegations of mishandling sexual misconduct in the past, including over a thousand allegations against Anderson. In recent years there have also been allegations of misconduct against Computer Science and Engineering professors Jason Mars and Walter Lasecki, former Music, Theatre & Dance professors Stephen Shipps and David Daniels, former LSA lecturer Bruce Conforth and English professor Douglas Trevor. There is also an upcoming sexual misconduct trial against former Computer Science and Engineering chair Peter Chen, as well as the firing of former University Provost Martin Philbert for a series of sexual misconduct allegations.
The CCRT will begin meetings during the fall semester, with 30 representatives from all three University campuses meeting three times a year to discuss and advise the University on “a wide range of approaches” to addressing misconduct, the University said in a statement.
Interim University President Mary Sue Coleman said the CCRT will help the University achieve its goals of becoming a national leader in protecting community members against sexual misconduct.
“The structure of the team, which includes leadership from outside the university, will give a voice to all members of our community who have a perspective to share on this vital effort,” Coleman said in a statement.
According to the settlement, the CCRT will be co-chaired by an external advisor, a faculty member and Tamiko Strickman, the University’s executive director of the Equity Civil Rights and Title IX Office. Rebecca Leitman Veidlinger, an attorney who works as a Title IX consultant and an intermittent lecturer at U-M Law School has been chosen as the external advisor and LSA professor Sandra Levitsky has been named as the faculty member.
Strickman is currently a defendant in a lawsuit over mishandling sexual misconduct allegations during her time as Title IX director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Strickman was also allegedly fired from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, though the University denies this claim.
The remaining 30 members of the CCRT will include survivors of sexual misconduct, students, faculty and staff from all three campuses and Michigan Medicine, and members of the Michigan Athletics Department, the SafeHouse Center in Ann Arbor and the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office.
The committee itself will decide thehe day-to-day work and procedures of the team, which are not dictated by the settlement. The entire CCRT will meet three times a year. According to a University statement, the co-chairs of the CCRT will also meet regularly with the University President and publicly share updates in order to provide accountability and transparency with the campus community.
Paul Brown, chair of the Board of Regents, said CCRT is another way that the University will listen to survivors and work on prevention efforts.
“This commitment is University-wide, shared by our entire board and our president-elect, Dr. Santa Ono,” Brown said in a press release obtained by The Daily. “Ongoing community input will be critical in helping shape future policies as they are developed.”
Summer Managing News Editor Riley Hodder can be reached at email@example.com.