Michigan lawmakers introduce legislation for university sexual abuse accountability

Tuesday, April 30, 2019 - 7:48pm

Michigan lawmakers announce the ALERT act Tuesday.

Michigan lawmakers announce the ALERT act Tuesday. Buy this photo
Alexis Rankin/Daily

Tuesday afternoon, a group of Michigan lawmakers held a press conference to announce a bipartisan and bicameral bill called the ALERT Act. ALERT stands for the Accountability of Leaders in Education to Report Title IX Investigations. The Act would require the president and a board member of every university receiving federal funding to personally review all Title IX and sexual abuse investigations involving a university employee.

The effort comes from Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, as well as U.S. Reps. Elissa Slotkin, Fred Upton and Paul Mitchell. Peters introduced the Senate bill in February, and Slotkin introduced the accompanying House bill on Tuesday.

Peters began the press conference with opening remarks.

“I think it is clear to all the sponsors that are standing up here with me today that if a university employee — someone who is entrusted with the wellbeing of students on that campus — has a Title IX case before them or involving them, a university president and at least one trustee needs to be aware of it,” Peters said.

Michigan lawmakers are working to address the issue of sexual misconduct at universities after Larry Nassar was convicted on sexual assault charges for incidents that took place when he was an employee of Michigan State University.

Peters said at the press conference this issue extends beyond Michigan.

“This is an issue that impacts not just survivors in Michigan, but really all across our country,” Peters said.

Peters said he believes survivors of Nassar’s abuse have set a wonderful example for other survivors across the country by staying strong. He hopes Michigan can formalize that example through the ALERT Act. Stabenow had similar goals for the state.

“This is so important, and we in Michigan really have felt this deeply because of what has happened at our alma mater,” Stabenow said. “So, we feel a special responsibility to stand up for the student athletes and other students that are involved.”