University releases new tool for employees to aid faculty in reporting sexual assault

Monday, September 12, 2016 - 7:44pm

On Monday, the University of Michigan released a new online tool for faculty and staff to report instances of sexual and gender-based misconduct as defined under the University’s recent update to its sexual misconduct policy.

The University released a new version of its sexual assault policy on April 6, also renaming it “The University of Michigan Policy and Procedures on Student Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence.” The new policy went into effect July 1. The updates revamped a 10-year-old document and included updates such as fine-tuning the meaning of consent and streamlining sanctioning and appeals procedures.

The policy also holds most employees responsible for reporting known and suspected instances of sexual misconduct to the University to better comply with Title IX requirements.

Now, two months later, designated University-affiliated personnel will be able to log into an online platform to report misconduct in addition to receiving online training. Topics covered in the training include whether the requirement applies to the employee’s position, what does and does not count as inappropriate conduct, how to share information with the University and how to appropriately respond to and support students who privately want to disclose instances of misconduct.

According to a press release, the main goal of this training and online tool is to make it clear to University employees whether or not they are required to report sexual and gender-based misconduct under the policy.

Drop-in Q&A sessions will also be available on Sept. 16, Sept. 29 and Oct. 4 in various areas around campus.

According to the University, employees required to report include regents, executive officers, associate or assistant vice presidents and provosts, deans, directors, department heads and chairs (including interim, assistant, or associate heads and chairs), graduate and undergraduate chairs, and supervisors of employees who are not student employees or postdoctoral employees. 

New regulations for campus security authorities are also included as responsible employees in the new sexual misconduct guidelines, to align better with the Clery Act. The guidelines also designate advisers to University-recognized student groups and all individuals working in the Student Life Division, the Division of Public Safety and Security, Intercollegiate Athletics and the Office for Institutional Equity as responsible employees.

Employees who handle confidential and private information are exempt from the reporting requirement, including employees of Counseling and Psychological Services and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center.

"Creating a safe and inclusive environment at U-M is the responsibility of all members of our campus community," University President Mark Schlissel wrote in a press release. "By understanding how the university responds to sexual and gender-based misconduct and interpersonal violence — and the role each of us has — together we can continue to create an environment that is safe for all."