Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, October 15, 2012

Forums to gather community input on draft student sexual misconduct policy

For the past eight months, a team of university officials has worked with many segments of the university community to develop a proposed approach for responding to allegations of sexual misconduct among students.


The student sessions

• Oct. 17, 5-8 p.m. — Northwood Community Center on North Campus. This session will start with an informal open house from 5-6 p.m. with a short informational presentation at 6 p.m. Discussion will follow.

• Oct. 18, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. — Anderson Room of the Michigan Union. This session will follow a similar format with the informational presentation set for noon.

The faculty-staff sessions

• Oct. 23, 9 a.m.-noon — Boulevard Room of Pierpont Commons on North Campus. This session will start with a short informational presentation at 9 a.m., followed by discussion and an informal open house 10:30 a.m.-noon.

• Oct. 23, 2-5 p.m. — Pond Room of the Michigan Union. This session flips the previous format with the informal open house scheduled 2-3:30 p.m. The short informational presentation is set for 3:30 p.m. with discussion to follow.

More information

The draft procedure will be posted soon.
The interim policy
• Questions or concerns? Send an email to

Now that team has a draft policy that it will take back to the community in a series of forums this month. The goal is to have a new process in place by the end of the 2012-13 academic year.

The work comes under the sponsorship of Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper and Suellyn Scarnecchia, special adviser to the president and clinical professor of law. The work is being led by project facilitator Jennifer Meyer Schrage.

"All through this review our goal has been to engage a large part of the university community to get the best thinking possible on this important topic. This is the next step in that process," Schrage explained.

The effort stems from additional guidance received in 2011 from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. That guidance highlights the nationwide impact of sexual misconduct on college campuses and makes specific recommendations regarding how colleges and universities should respond to allegations of sexual misconduct.

In the fall of 2011, the university put in place an interim procedure for addressing sexual misconduct allegations against students and laid out plans for developing a longer-term approach.

Development of the new procedure is being guided by a diverse, campuswide advisory committee, with membership ranging from the Department of Public Safety, members of the faculty and students to the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, the Office of Student Conflict Resolution and the Dean of Students Office.

A subset of the advisory group is planning and leading the effort on campus. This core team, in addition to Schrage, includes Maya Kobersy, associate general counsel; Holly Rider-Milkovich, SAPAC director; Anthony Walesby, senior director of the Office of Institutional Equity; and Jay Wilgus, director of the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.

Schrage said sessions — two designed for students and two for faculty and staff — provide time to examine the draft procedure, ask questions of the team that created the draft and discuss the implications of the proposed procedure. Each session is scheduled to run three hours.

While each session is scheduled for three hours in order to provide adequate time for presentations and discussion. Participants are welcome to come to all or part of a session.

The draft procedure that has been developed includes key changes that also were part of the interim procedure and are consistent with the guidance received from the Department of Education.

How an investigation is started: The draft procedure states that all allegations of sexual misconduct made against students are to be reviewed by the university's Title IX coordinator. Under the previous procedure, the university process was largely directed by the complainant after a complaint was filed with the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.

The standard of evidence: The new guidance also instructed campuses to use a "preponderance of the evidence" standard to evaluate an allegation of sexual misconduct. Previously the university used a "clear and convincing evidence" standard. Under the draft procedure, the university will rely on the less-demanding "preponderance of the evidence" standard to substantiate an allegation.

It's important to note that neither the interim nor the new long-term procedure will have any impact on how criminal investigations are handled.