University statements on sexual misconduct policy

Comments regarding recent news reports have suggested that the university’s Athletics Department played a role in the investigation of an internal complaint filed with the university.

Statement by Head Football Coach Brady Hoke

Feb. 3, 2014

Michigan Athletics has no influence over any part of a review of a potential violation of the university’s student code of conduct – not the process, the investigation or the timing of the resolution.

In general, while we may be aware of an on-going proceeding, we always strive to balance transparency with privacy.

Our usual approach is not to issue discipline related to a student's standing on the team before the university’s process runs its course and the outcome has been determined. We will always respect the rights and confidentiality of the process and the parties involved. One way we do that is by not discussing the details of student disciplinary matters.

So while I would like to be more forthcoming, I can't provide any details due to federal privacy laws and University policies.

We talk every day with our kids about the importance of character and integrity. It's something we take very seriously, how we're going to do things the right way. We talk daily about your name and what it means. That's why you get into this as a coach, to help young men grow and learn and mature. We're held to those standards, and we hold them to that. I think I've made clear our expectations, and our actions and discipline involving incidents in the past have reflected that. And those standards will not be compromised.


Statement from President Mary Sue Coleman  

Jan. 30, 2014

Athletics has no influence over sexual misconduct investigations or the academic standing of student athletes.

No unit or individual on our campus has any influence over the investigations carried out by the Office for Institutional Equity (OIE).

OIE is charged with conducting fair and impartial internal investigations involving allegations of discrimination and harassment, including allegations of sexual misconduct.

Our policies and processes mandate a thorough and fair handling of any allegations of student sexual misconduct. The University of Michigan takes this responsibility very seriously.


University Statement

January 29, 2014

Questions have been raised about the University of Michigan’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct in 2009. Those allegations were handled in accordance with the university policy in effect at the time. 

The university now adheres to the institution's policy on sexual misconduct by students, which was adopted in 2013. The Office for Institutional Equity is the designated university office for conducting investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct involving students. In implementing university policy, OIE treats all students equally and conducts fair and impartial investigations.

Our current process allows that, if new information is obtained at a later point, the university could commence an investigation at that time.

In accordance with the university’s policy of not disclosing details about student disciplinary actions, we will not release the results of any investigation. The university does produce and publish annual reports on aggregate student disciplinary sanctions through the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.

U-M sexual misconduct policy timeline

2009
Under the University’s process investigations commence at the request of complainants after a complaint is filed with the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.

2011
April – The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights provides additional guidance that 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.

August – University of Michigan implements an interim procedure on student sexual misconduct that reflects the U.S. Department of Education guidance. That procedure allows for review of previous reports only if new information becomes available.

2013

August – After a year-long review process, the University implements new policy on student-to-student sexual misconduct. Key changes in the policy, which also were part of the interim procedure, include how an investigation is initiated and the standard of evidence being used. These changes also are consistent with guidance from the Department of Education.

Questions and answers

Here are a few basic questions and answers about the university’s policy on sexual misconduct by students. Read a more complete FAQ here.

Q.  Is the policy equally applied to all students?
A.  Absolutely.

Q. Who is usually involved in the investigation process?
A. In most cases, the university’s Title IX Coordinator will appoint an investigator from the university’s Office for Institutional Equity to conduct a thorough fact-finding investigation. That typically includes meeting separately with the complainant, the respondent, the reporter (if applicable), witnesses and reviewing other pertinent information. At any time during the investigation the complainant, respondent or any witness may provide a written statement or other supporting materials. Any person involved in the investigation may have a support person present during any meeting.

Q. How is the new policy different from the one in effect before August 2011?
A. There are two important changes first implemented with the interim policy in 2011 that carried through with the final policy in 2013. How an investigation is started: The new policy 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 investigated only if the victim of sexual misconduct elected to move forward. This current investigatory approach is consistent with Department of Education guidance. The standard of evidence: The 2011 Department of Education guidance also specified the standard of evidence to be used to determine if an allegation of sexual misconduct was valid. That standard is to be a “preponderance of the evidence.” Previously the university used a “clear and convincing evidence” standard with reports of sexual misconduct. Under the new policy, the university will rely on the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. Use of a preponderance of evidence standard also is consistent with the standard used by the university in evaluating allegations of sexual misconduct against faculty and staff.

Q. Is the university’s investigation the same as criminal justice process?
A. No. This new policy has no impact on a criminal investigation that would be handled separately by police. The university does, however, encourage anyone who believes they have experienced a sexual assault, or any other crime, to make a report to the U-M Police Department or other appropriate police agency.

Q.  Can an incident from the past be investigated?
A.  Yes. The Title IX coordinator can and does review information whenever it is received and makes a determination on how to proceed. The university does not, however, routinely review complaints received in earlier years without being in receipt of some additional information.

Q.  What happens when a complainant does not want to cooperate with an investigation?
A.  If a complainant requests confidentiality or asks that the report of sexual misconduct not be pursued, the university will, generally before taking any further investigative steps, forward that information, along with all available information about the report, to a review panel. The review panel will consist of the Title IX Coordinator and staff members. These panel members will represent the interests of the university, law enforcement, survivors of sexual misconduct, persons accused of sexual misconduct, and/or other offices as deemed necessary and appropriate under the circumstances. The review panel is charged with balancing U-M’s tradition of supporting survivor-centered practices with U-M’s equally strong commitment to providing due process to the respondent and promoting a safe community.

Q.  Why is it important to keep student discipline records private?

A.  Students involved in a sexual misconduct investigation may choose to share information. They have the right to decide whether and if they share the information of an investigation outcome. The university will not usurp students’ ability to make their own decisions by providing that information to the public.

Q. What are the possible outcomes of a review?
A. Once an investigator from the Office for Institutional Equity has completed a review and the report has been reviewed by the Title IX Coordinator, the university’s official written determination generally will be provided to the complainant and the respondent. If the respondent has been found responsible for sexual misconduct the university will initiate a sanctioning process designed to eliminate the misconduct, its recurrence and remedy its effects while supporting the university’s educational mission and Title IX obligations. There also is an appeal process available to complainants and respondents.

Additional FAQ on the university’s sexual misconduct policy

 

University Record stories

 

University implements new policy regarding student sexual misconduct (9-3-13)

 

OSCR report offers insight into impact of changed process (2-26-13)

 

Forums to gather community input on draft student sexual misconduct policy (10-15-12)

 

Effort seeks to craft new process for handling student sexual misconduct allegations (3-12-12)