The University of Michigan has announced sweeping revisions to how it will address sexual misconduct, including the creation of a new office with significant new resources for support, education and prevention, as well as sharing new details on a process that will include the development of shared community values.

The new multidisciplinary unit — the Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office — will house many of the critical functions around equity and civil rights work, including Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and forms of discrimination. This will replace and subsume the university’s Office for Institutional Equity.  

The university also announced policy changes that include prohibiting supervisors from initiating a romantic relationship with anyone they supervise.

The changes, announced during the July 15 Board of Regents meeting, come as the university continues progress on its commitment to change the culture across all three campuses to one where all members of the university community — students, faculty, staff and visitors — feel safe and supported. 

Read more: U-M overhauls its approach to addressing sexual misconduct

In this video, Tami Strickman, who will serve as special adviser to the president and executive director of the Office of Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX, explains the role of the new unit.

Policy on supervisor-employee relationships

U-M has put in place a first-of-its-kind policy that prohibits a supervisor from initiating or attempting to initiate an intimate relationship with anyone they supervise. A supervisor who violates the policy could face dismissal.

Provost Susan M. Collins discussed the policy, called a Standard Practice Guide, during the July 15 Board of Regents meeting as part of a broader outline of steps the university is taking to address matters of climate at the university where everyone is respected.

The creation of such a policy is one of the recommendations made by the WilmerHale report on sexual misconduct by former provost Martin Philbert.

Read more: Policy prohibits most supervisor-employee relationships

Cultural change working group

The university is making changes to strengthen its efforts to prevent and report sexual misconduct on campus with the launch of a working group on culture change, which will be charged with establishing new community expectations and shared values around sexual harassment intervention and prevention policies.

The working group, which was announced during the July 15 regents meeting, will engage the U-M community through several campus surveys over the fall and winter terms to collect culture and climate feedback to develop campus shared values for all three campuses, including Michigan Medicine.

Schlissel said Hurn and Jacobs have created a work plan for the group “whose purpose is to create an environment of mutual respect and accountability that is free of retaliation, where everyone can feel safe to report misconduct and feel supported throughout the process.”

Read more: Working group to develop cultural change process, survey U-M community

In this video, Sonya Jacobs, chief organizational learning officer for the university and senior director for faculty and leadership development at Michigan Medicine, explains the goals of a new working group on culture change.

Process for revoking emeritus status

The university has revised its policy on emeritus and emerita status for retired faculty members to include, for the first time, a process to revoke that status for misconduct or other compelling circumstances.

The revised emeritus title policy, outlined at the July 15 regents meeting, is effective immediately and is part of a broader outline of steps the university is taking to address matters of sexual misconduct.

The policy changes outlined in the Standard Practice Guide 201.80 apply to all faculty members from the three U-M campuses who have been granted the emeritus title by the regents.

Read more: Revised policy adds process for revoking emeritus status

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