Michigan State University published a new strategic plan Tuesday that addresses how the university will work to prevent sexual misconduct and relationship violence on its campus. The plan comes after years of policy review by administrators and faculty experts, discussions with survivors of sexual assault and their families, and campus surveys following the sex abuse case involving former USA Gymnastics and university team doctor Larry Nassar, which came to light in 2016.
According to a report outlining the plan, the university will initiate a campuswide culture shift toward more trauma-informed responses to reports of sexual misconduct, in order to encourage victims to seek help. According to a 2019 survey of students, faculty and staff members at Michigan State, only one-fifth of female undergraduate students who were raped sought services through the university’s Office of Institutional Equity or other resources. Only 18 percent of female faculty members who were sexually harassed said they reported the incidents to their supervisor, the survey found.
“Too many people are experiencing relationship violence and sexual misconduct at MSU,” said the report, authored by a working group of faculty and staff members who are sexual violence prevention experts. “We need to follow our principles for intersectional, trauma-informed action to create safe, supportive pathways for survivors to disclose and connect with resources. We need to create initiatives that will increase help-seeking.”
The plan includes seven proposed initiatives to encourage survivors to seek support and decrease incidences of sexual misconduct on campus. The initiatives include expanding trauma-informed services to help survivors through the reporting process, strengthening discipline for sexual misconduct and evaluating and reassessing the efficacy of current sexual misconduct prevention and education programs for students, faculty and staff members, the report said.