The new Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office has taken steps to expand staffing and reporting resources to ensure every report brought forward has dedicated support, while improving response time to investigate allegations of misconduct and discrimination.
The effort is designed to strengthen support resources and encourage the U-M community to report sexual and gender-based misconduct on campus. There are several ways to report misconduct to the university, police or both that are detailed on the sexual and gender-based misconduct website.
In July, the website was updated to include resources for where to report misconduct on each of U-M’s three campuses, including Michigan Medicine. The website also provides a link to online reporting tools and confidential resources for students, faculty and staff.
“When sexual and gender-based misconduct is not reported or taken seriously, it cannot be effectively addressed. It is important that everyone has accurate information about confidential resources and reporting options,” said Elizabeth Seney, associate director and Title IX coordinator of the Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office.
“The ECRT office responds to every report that is brought to our attention and encourages anyone with information about possible misconduct to come forward and report that information.”
All reports of sexual and gender-based misconduct are handled by the Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office, whose staff members are trained to work with individuals who report misconduct and have knowledge about on- and off-campus resources, services and options. A new website for ECRT is under development.
Hiring is also underway to fill several new positions in the ECRT Office. A deputy coordinator for civil rights and Title IX outcomes and one of two additional equity specialists started work in October. Equity specialists are part of a team to improve coordination of supportive services to all who report misconduct and to serve as a resource to all parties from initial intake through resolution.
Kaaren Williamsen, director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, said many who experience sexual or gender-based misconduct do not report it because they fear nothing will happen, or they will not be believed.
“This work of ending sexual and gender-based misconduct on campus is a collective effort. It requires us to create spaces and contexts where people who have experienced harm feel supported to come forward to ask for help. Sometimes this means meeting with a confidential resource before reporting, and SAPAC can provide this kind of support,” Williamsen said.
Those who are uncertain about what reporting may mean for them are encouraged to seek confidential assistance on the website, which includes a list of confidential support resources for faculty, staff and students, prior to reporting.
The university has a variety of ways to report sexual and gender-based misconduct on campus, including:
Reporting to the university
Faculty, staff and students can file a report to the university through an online form, by phone or email. An ECRT staff member will then follow up on the complaint with resources, support and information about possible next steps, including how to file a formal complaint.
There is no time limit for reporting an incident, but the ECRT office encourages reports to be made as soon as possible.
Confidential reporting resources
Reports can also be submitted anonymously to the ECRT Office on the website by using the online reporting form and using a non-university-affiliated email address that does not have one’s name or other identifying information in it.
ECRT will still receive the form and respond to the email address provided. The university’s ability to investigate and respond to anonymous reports is limited.
Reports of sexual misconduct can also be reported anonymously through U-M’s 24/7 compliance hotline at 866-990-0111.
Reporting to the police
The university also encourages people to consider reporting incidents of sexual and gender-based misconduct, which may also be crimes, to U-M Police.
The department’s Special Victims Unit ensures that survivors know their options when navigating the criminal justice system. Reporting to the police provides an opportunity for a thorough investigation and may lead to holding the offender accountable.
“One of our primary goals is to empower survivors to make informed decisions,” said Maureen Burke, the Special Victims Unit outreach and engagement coordinator for the Division of Public Safety and Security.
“When our unit meets with survivors, we explain the reporting options, criminal justice process and answer any questions they may have. Survivors may choose to have a confidential resource present for support, such as someone from SAPAC.”
Members of the U-M community can speak with a Special Victims Unit officer by calling DPSS at 734-763-1131.
Additionally, all reports of sexual and gender-based misconduct made to U-M Police also are reported to the university’s ECRT office regardless of criminal charges or not.
Individuals with reporting obligations
Designated U-M individuals who have authority to institute corrective action are required to report all information they have received about possible sexual or gender-based misconduct with the Title IX coordinator in the ECRT Office.
Individuals with reporting obligations should make their reports with the online form provided on the website.
This reporting obligation was part of the university’s Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct, Standard Practice Guide 601.89, which went into effect Oct. 1.