U-M promotes resources during Sexual Assault Awareness Month


The university is releasing a new video this week to further promote resources for individuals impacted by sexual misconduct and broadly share institutional reporting practices in recognition of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

In addition, the university is one of 27 institutions participating throughout April in an all-student survey regarding sexual misconduct administered by the Association of American Universities. The survey, offered to more than 800,000 students nationwide, is expected to be the largest ever on this topic. 

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“I feel personally responsible for all the members of our community,” says President Mark Schlissel. “And a big part of that is a feeling of responsibility for their safety in all senses, particularly in the instance of sexual assault and sexual harassment.”

Addressing campus sexual misconduct is a growing national issue, and one in which the university has a nearly 30-year history of providing support and resources to those impacted in the U-M community.

“The vast majority of people on this campus know survivors. They may not know they know survivors. They have people that they are working with that have experienced these issues that have influenced their lives in dramatic and pervasive ways,” says Richard Tolman, professor in the School of Social Work, and researcher of sexual and intimate partner violence.

Schlissel and Tolman are two of several voices featured in a new video sharing the institution’s commitment to address sexual misconduct on campus.

U-M leaders speak about the institutional commitment to providing a safe environment free of sexual misconduct for students to live, work and grow.

Another video featuring U-M students explaining the options students have for reporting information will be released later this month. A third video on the topic of consent is planned for the fall.

Faculty, staff and students can report information to the Division of Public Safety and Security, the Office for Institutional Equity, or choose to share information confidentially with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center. Additional confidential resources for staff and faculty are available through the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, Central Faculty Ombuds and the UMHS Employee Assistance Program. The Office of Ombuds and Counseling and Psychological Services offer confidential resources exclusively for students.

“We are committed to making U-M as safe as possible for students to live, learn and grow,” says Royster Harper, vice president of student life. “We want people to feel safe on campus and trust the university to take the appropriate action when necessary.”

Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center Director Holly Rider-Milkovich says the university offers many resources of support and guidance for individuals affected by sexual misconduct. Since 1986, SAPAC has provided educational and confidential supportive services for all U-M community members related to sexual assault, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment and stalking.

The Office for Institutional Equity conducts investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct, and identifies resources and support for all parties involved in the investigation process.

“We encourage reporting because it allows the university to provide for the safety and well-being of both individual community members and the overall campus community. It also allows us to provide resources and support for all individuals who raise concerns,” says Anthony Walesby, associate vice provost for academic and faculty affairs and senior director of OIE, who also serves as the university’s Title IX coordinator.  

The University Police Department recently organized a new Special Victims Unit of detectives and other officers who will provide primary response to and investigation of interpersonal violence crimes that are reported to have occurred on campus. These incidents include sexual assaults, domestic violence, stalking and child abuse.

“The officers in our Special Victims Unit have additional training to assist those persons making reports of interpersonal violence so we can provide effective investigations and hopefully hold more perpetrators accountable,” said University Police Chief Robert Neumann. “By creating this new unit, these officers can focus on the unique aspects of these sensitive situations and more effectively support survivors.”

The videos are the newest additions to the university’s existing efforts to provide the community with support resources and education about healthy relationships and sexual misconduct prevention. Other recent efforts include:

• U-M survey: Distribution of a U-M specific survey to 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students on the topic of the university’s campus climate regarding sexual misconduct in February. Survey findings will be made public and will help the university better understand to more effectively address and prevent sexual misconduct. This survey is separate from the AAU survey being administered this month.

• Annual Report: Release of the initial annual report for the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy by the Office for Institutional Equity last November. It provides detailed information specific to sexual misconduct allegations, investigations and sanctions. The report provides greater insight into the numbers of complaints addressed by the university, how those complaints are handled and what happens before, during and after a sexual misconduct investigation. In previous years, the university’s sexual misconduct data was reported in a broader sense as a part of the annual report from the Office of Student Conflict Resolution.

• Educational Outreach: Expansion of awareness and prevention education beyond first-year students to include all new employees  — both faculty and staff — and graduate students, as well as the addition of bystander intervention training to new student programing this past fall.

• Student Sexual Misconduct Policy: An update of the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, which applies to all U-M students as well as participants in university-sponsored programs, in 2013. It replaced an interim procedure that was put into effect in August 2011 in response to new guidance provided to all universities by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The new policy is built on the pillars of respect, report, respond and review.

• Abuse Hurts: Recognize, Respond, Refer: A campuswide awareness campaign directed at faculty and staff on the effects of domestic and sexual violence launched in 2009. The initiative seeks to provide support to employees experiencing domestic violence; guide management on addressing the occurrence of domestic violence and its effects in the workplace; and educate the university community about the signs, dynamics and consequences of domestic violence and equip community members to recognize, respond and refer.


During the month of April, several events are open to the university community and offer the opportunity to engage in a dialogue surrounding sexual misconduct:

• Now-April 3 — Revolution: Marking Art for Change. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this art show includes displays under the themes of gender, empowerment, control, violence and healing. Open during regular business hours on the first floor of the School of Social Work.

• April 1 — SAPAC the Diag: Get Consensual. Join the SAPAC Peer Education Program on the Diag for the kick off to Sexual Assault Awareness Month with free food, free swag, self-care baggies, DIY crafts, trivia and more. Central Campus Diag, 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

• April 9 — Free screening of The “Hunting Ground”, a documentary film exploring sexual assault on college campuses cosponsored by I Will, It’s On Us, Culture Shift and SAPAC’s Networking, Publicity and Activism group. A panel discussion will follow the screening. Rackham Amphitheater, 6-9 p.m.

• April 12 — YesMeansFest SafeHouse Benefit Concert. The SAPAC Men’s Activism volunteer group is hosting this second annual all-day festival to benefit SafeHouse Center in Ann Arbor. The event will feature various local acts as well as an open mic between 4-6 p.m. Trotter Multicultural Center, 4-10 p.m.

• Throughout the month of April — Paths to Renewal: Teaching, Leading, and Healing through Art. A SAPAC-UMMA collaborative, interactive virtual exhibit featuring artworks chosen by UMMA student docents from UMMA’s permanent collection is available online.


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