The University of Michigan is offering new prevention education, resources and resolution options for faculty and staff as it builds on its existing foundation for addressing campus sexual and gender-based misconduct.
The university’s Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX Office is responsible for addressing reports of sexual and gender-based misconduct across the Ann Arbor campus, including Athletics and Michigan Medicine. It also provides support, resources and education to promote a safe and non-discriminatory learning, living and working environment for the university community.
With the start of the summer academic term on the Ann Arbor campus, all students, faculty and staff are encouraged to share information about possible sexual or gender-based misconduct with ECRT.
Led by Tamiko Strickman, executive director of ECRT and special adviser to President Santa J. Ono, ECRT is supported by 35 staff members. The team recently added four new full-time equity specialists specially trained on Title IX and responding to sensitive matters, and who conduct the initial outreach to any individual reported to ECRT as having experienced misconduct.
“When addressing individuals reporting possible misconduct, it’s so important to establish trust and ensure individual needs are being met. Our equity specialists serve to ensure that those who find themselves engaging with ECRT feel respected, heard and educated about all their options,” Strickman said.
During the 2022-23 academic year, ECRT conducted more than 50 prevention education trainings for faculty and staff through its Prevention Education, Assistance & Resources unit. The trainings covered a variety of topics including understanding university policy and individual reporting obligations, and how to compassionately respond to disclosures of information. The PEAR team, led by Kaaren Williamsen, also offers workshops, resources, consultations and assistance to create unit-level prevention plans for sexual and gender-based harassment and misconduct.
In addition, ECRT offers an adaptable resolution option for matters between employees. Adaptable resolution was available previously through a pilot phase. Adaptable resolution — which has been available to students since 2013 — is a mutually agreed upon process that allows those who have experienced harm or conflict to choose their resolution process and outcomes with professionally facilitated assistance.
This resolution pathway must be requested by a party — typically the complainant — and agreed to by all participants. For matters involving potential policy violations, its use must be approved by the U-M Title IX coordinator or civil rights director.
Once a report is made, ECRT reviews all information and will reach out to the affected party — if identified — to offer resources, support and information about several possible resolution pathways, including investigative resolution, adaptable resolution, mediation and other responsive actions.
“It is critical that we work together to ensure that our community members have the opportunity to make informed decisions and the university has the ability to take action to prevent, stop and remedy misconduct,” said Elizabeth Seney, Title IX coordinator and director of sexual and gender-based misconduct at ECRT.
Support is available with or without the listed resolution pathways. It includes academic support and accommodations, university employment modifications, university housing modifications, counseling or medical services, security measures, contact restrictions, advocacy and assistance with legal or other external processes such as seeking a personal protection order.
Throughout the current academic year, ECRT launched a new website, video series and other materials to increase awareness of the key resources available for the U-M community. ECRT offers assistance with:
- University policies on sexual and gender-based misconduct, accessibility and disability, and civil rights and non-discrimination.
- Steps on how to submit a formal report.
- Confidential support resources.
- Adaptable resolution or volunteer mediation services for conflict resolution.
PEAR is partnering with the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching this month to support “Creating Climates Resistant to Sexual Harassment: Defining the Problem,” a CRLT program for academic leadership teams.
This program is designed to support academic leadership teams in developing foundational knowledge and reflective skills necessary to cultivate climates that are more resistant to sexual harassment.
Community response team
The university’s Coordinated Community Response Team — comprised of 60 students, faculty and staff from Ann Arbor, Flint, Dearborn and Michigan Medicine, along with community partners — is developing recommendations to advance efforts in the areas of repairing harm, obstacles to reporting, organizational structures, and prevention and education. Each working group — led by two co-chairs — is responsible for meeting regularly and developing recommendations for the president.
CCRT is led by Rebecca Leitman Veidlinger, an external expert with experience evaluating institutional responses to sexual misconduct and identifying areas for improvement; Sandra Levitsky, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and associate professor of sociology in LSA; and Strickman, the ECRT executive director.
ECRT publishes an annual report to provide transparency and offer the community information about various resources and options that are available to address concerns. The report also provides an overview of the number and nature of reports of possible sexual and gender-based misconduct reported during the preceding fiscal year, and the outcome of those matters.
The annual report explains resolution options, such as investigations, adaptable resolutions, and other steps ECRT takes to stop misconduct, prevent future misconduct, and remedy the effects of misconduct on all who may have experienced or been affected by it.
The report also identifies available options in various circumstances — for example, when a member of the university community reports misconduct by someone who is not affiliated with, or subject to discipline by, U-M. The document addresses common questions, such as the overlap and distinction between responses under university policy and law enforcement investigations regarding alleged crimes.
The report contains non-identifying data about the number of reports of possible sexual and gender-based misconduct ECRT received, as well as how those reports were addressed.
Also included are data regarding the types of prohibited conduct reported and the processes used to address allegations. That provides useful context, such as the number of reports in which the complainant or respondent were not identified to ECRT, to provide insight into what actions ECRT is able to take under various circumstances.