CMU enacts new Sexual Misconduct Policy
After a year-long effort collaborating with many Central Michigan University groups to update policies, a new Sexual Misconduct Policy was established Tuesday.
"This policy benefits all of us at the university," said Title IX Director Katherine Lasher. "It adds quality in the process for both sides and allows a survivor the opportunity to locate available resources on and off campus and keeps them informed during the process."
The Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equality will now perform sexual misconduct investigations instead of the Office of Student Conduct. Students found violating the policy will receive sanctions under the Student Code of Conduct. Lasher said faculty members will receive sanctions from Faculty Personnel Services and the dean of their academic college. Human Resources will impose sanctions for staff members along with their supervisor.
"Our office will initiate the response and coordinate a first response," Lasher said. "We look at whether any interim measures will be put into place and move forward with investigation."
Students found guilty of sexual misconduct face suspension at a minimum. Other penalties include a written reprimand, removal from CMU housing, limitations on the times and places where a respondent may be on-campus and revocation of CMU privileges, participation in educational programs, such as training and workshops. Disciplinary probation and prohibition of contact with survivors are also potential sanctions.
In the 2013-14 academic year, there were 6 students found guilty of violating the Student Code of Conduct for incidents of sexual assault. The Central Michigan Police Department reported 10 incidents of forcible sex offenses in from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 2013. The Office of Student Conduct keeps statistics based on the academic calendar, from July 1 to June 30 the following year.
Sexual misconduct is defined in CMU's Sexual Misconduct Policy as "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature committed without consent or by force, intimidation, coercion or manipulation." Under the policy, dating violence, domestic violence and intimate partner violence, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment and stalking and retaliation are prohibited. The policy applies to all CMU faculty, staff and students.
University President George Ross released a statement with the official press release Tuesday, in which he called on students and faculty to protect each other and report inappropriate behavior.
“We have a responsibility to understand, address and work to eliminate instances of sexual misconduct,” Ross said in the release. “First and foremost, if you see something, say something. We need to take care of each other. By speaking up, we can prevent sexual misconduct from happening.”
Ross said the policy was updated during the past year in accordance with a national mandate issued in 2014 for universities to address sexual misconduct through policies and training. The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault was established in January 2014, with a mandate to strengthen federal enforcement efforts and provide schools with additional tools to help combat sexual assault on their campuses.
In July 2014, a bipartisan group of senators, led by Sen. Claire McCaskill D-Mo., introduced the Campus Accountability and Safety Act. A group of 10 senators introduced a strengthened version of the act Feb. 26, which focuses on addressing the issue of sexual assault on college campuses.
Key provisions of the legislation include establishing new campus resources and support services for student survivors, require fairness in campus disciplinary process, ensure minimum training standards for on-campus personnel, create new transparency requirements and require colleges and universities to enter into memoranda of understanding with local law enforcement agencies to clearly define responsibilities and share information.
It would also create enforceable Title IX penalties and stiffer penalties for violating the Jeanne Clery Act.