The DOE conducted their investigation between 2009 and 2014 and found a number of problems with the way in which the university handled two sexual assault cases. In the report, investigators said MSU failed to “address complaints in a prompt and equitable manner.” Their mishandling of complaints therefore created a “sexually hostile environment.” The report also found that they mishandled a number of sexual harassment complaints.
In light of the condemning findings, MSU will resolve the DOE investigation by making a number of changes to their reporting policies and their handling of investigations. According to Michigan Radio MSU must:
Develop a procedure to document sexual assault, sexual discrimination and sexual harassment complaints they receive as well as the actions they take.
Conduct sexual harassment training twice a year for all staff members, administrators and professors.
And, develop an online sexual harassment and sexual violence training program for students and offer in-person “information sessions” for students.
In a written statement, via Michigan Radio, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said, “Sexual assault and harassment are serious problems in society and on college campuses, including ours. No member of our community should be threatened by sexual violence, and we have made a commitment to be part of a larger societal conversation on this issue.”
MSU was just one of many colleges under investigation for their mishandling of sexual harassment. In June of this year, the Huffington Post reported that 143 postsecondary institutions were under investigation for their handling of sexual harassment or assault complaints.
That number of institutions under investigation points to how prevalent sexual assault and harassment are on college campuses. In the recent study from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), 62 percent of women and 61 percent of men reported being sexually harassed on their campus. And sixty-six percent of respondents said they knew someone who had been sexually harassed.
By failing to take reasonable action against sexual assault and harassment, colleges and workplaces send a signal that the behavior is accepted and there are no repercussions for their sexual abuse. They don’t think about the way it makes the target of their behavior feel and how it can impact them. In the AAUW study, 69 percent of the women who were harassed said they were very upset about it and over 50 percent said it made them feel embarrassed and insecure. In most cases they are made to feel this way day in and day out. This can wear on a person in many ways and they need to take steps to stop it.
First step would be to contact a sexual harassment attorney in Michigan to talk about their case and decide how to go about getting the compensation you deserve. USAttorneys can connect you with an employment law attorney near you to give you the guidance you need and help you make the right choices about your case.