U-M seeks input on comprehensive sexual misconduct policy; AAU survey results shared

To All U-M Ann Arbor Students, Faculty and Staff:

I want to update everyone on a few of the ongoing comprehensive actions we are taking to prevent and address sexual and gender-based misconduct and support survivors at the University of Michigan.

The actions further our goal of ensuring a safe and respectful community for all, and I hope everyone will take the time to learn about the changes we have made. Preventing sexual misconduct at U-M is everyone’s responsibility.

Feedback on draft Umbrella Policy

We are seeking broad community feedback on our draft umbrella policy on sexual and gender-based misconduct. A single policy with common definitions was one of the main recommendations of the external review we commissioned as part of a comprehensive examination of our efforts to prevent and address sexual misconduct.

Known formally as The University of Michigan Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct, the draft umbrella policy applies to all members of our community, including faculty, staff, students, and third parties. Previously, we had separate policies, for employees and students, either of which might apply to third-parties depending upon the circumstances.

We have posted the draft umbrella policy, the procedures for addressing student and employee allegations, and an accompanying draft Standard Practice Guide (SPG). All U-M community members are encouraged to submit input via a survey.

The draft policy was developed by a team of representatives from all three campuses and Michigan Medicine, and was informed by study of more than 20 policies at peer institutions as well as federal guidance. This team also drafted the SPG to accompany the policy with links to policies, procedures and resources. I want to thank them for their considerable efforts.

The draft umbrella policy, SPG and procedures generally align with our existing practices, and they provide clarity and unite our policy and procedures in once place. Though the procedures for different groups will remain distinct, as they always have been, the draft policy clarifies definitions to enhance consistency for everyone. It also further spells out how members of our community can report instances of misconduct and access available confidential resources, and identifies who is considered a responsible employee and required to report concerns of sexual misconduct.

I want to note, as well, that the student procedures in the umbrella policy remain consistent with the interim student sexual misconduct policies in place for each of our campuses. Reviews of the student procedures that were already underway will continue.

As part of our outreach on the draft policy, we are also engaging with dozens of key stakeholder groups across the university.

We request that all survey feedback from members of the U-M community be submitted by Nov. 22, 2019, and we’ve also set up a dedicated email address: sexualmisconductpolicy@umich.edu. The final form of the policy is expected to be implemented in early 2020.

AAU Survey

The University of Michigan was one of 33 schools to participate in the Association of American Universities’ Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Misconduct. The survey was administered on our Ann Arbor campus this past spring, and as promised, we are sharing the results. I thank the students who participated in the survey.

The 2019 AAU survey is a follow-up to the AAU’s 2015 survey, which U-M also participated in. The latest survey provides new knowledge on students’ nonconsensual experiences before they arrive on campus, as well as additional insights into its prevalence on the U-M campus and which groups are most at-risk.

The 2019 results include findings for different demographics of students; findings around the categories of sexual assault, sexual harassment, intimate-partner violence and stalking; and some comparisons with the survey four years ago. We will study these findings more closely and discuss them more fully with various campus groups in the months ahead. And we use the survey findings to enhance our work on prevention and education.

The number of sexual assaults and misconduct cases continues to be too high at U-M, on college campuses across the country, and throughout our society in general. We must do everything we can as we strive to reduce the number to zero.

I also urge all students to report any instances of sexual misconduct.

Mandatory Training Update

To date, 55 percent of U-M faculty and staff have completed our mandatory online training for sexual misconduct prevention, including all U-M regents, executive officers, and deans from all three campuses. The completion deadline is Dec. 31, 2019, and I encourage everyone to complete the training as soon as possible.

Many individuals across our community have engaged with different aspects of our work to prevent and address sexual and gender-based misconduct. This includes our Board of Regents, executive leaders, faculty and staff experts, students, and advocates. We all share the goal of making the University of Michigan a better and safer place, and I thank you for your continued efforts.


Mark S. Schlissel