The Association of American Universities, a group of 62 leading research universities including the University of Michigan, Wednesday released a data-rich report on the actions its members are taking to prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual misconduct on their campuses.
The AAU Campus Activities Report: Combating Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct shows how universities are making significant improvements, and devoting substantial resources, to efforts that address the issue following findings from the 2015 AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct.
“The purpose of the new report is to assist AAU universities in their efforts to combat sexual assault and sexual misconduct by providing data and examples of the efforts their peer institutions are making in this area” said AAU President Mary Sue Coleman, a former U-M president.
In addition to participating in the AAU survey in April 2015, U-M also conducted its own survey in January 2015 designed uniquely for and by U-M. A university team including the Institute for Social Research, Student Life and the Office of the General Counsel designed the questions and survey methodology, which is currently being adapted for use at eight other campuses to survey their communities.
“The AAU’s report is vital to our understanding of the problem of sexual misconduct and how universities can learn from one another to make our campuses safer,” President Mark Schlissel said.
“I am committed to using the best available information to tailor programs that will make U-M a better and safer place for students to live, learn and grow.”
U-M efforts highlighted in the AAU report include:
• Development of two new classes specifically related to Title IX and sexual assault in higher education.
• An in-person training program, focusing on understanding university policies and increasing bystander intervention skills, that is delivered to student leaders on campus, including NCAA athletes and coaches, club sports coaches and team leaders, leaders and members in the Greek community, members of ROTC, marching band members and other campus groups.
• A counseling support group for survivors on campus.
Other recent efforts include:
• Annual report: Since 2014, U-M has provided detailed information specific to sexual misconduct allegations, investigations and sanctions through the release of an annual report by the Office for Institutional Equity.
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.
• Expansion of educational outreach and training: U-M provides awareness and prevention education beyond first-year students to include graduate students and all new employees, as well as providing bystander intervention training as a part of new student programing.
Additional resources also are available for those affected by sexual misconduct, including the Our Community Matters Resource Guide and a Responsible Employee training program focused on reporting suspected misconduct.
• Updated Student Sexual Misconduct Policy: In July 2016, U-M released The U-M Policy and Procedures on Student Sexual and Gender Based Misconduct and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence, which applies to all U-M students as well as participants in university-sponsored programs.
The policy replaced and expanded the previous policies that were created in response to the guidance provided to all universities by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in 2011.
• Campuswide awareness campaigns: In fall 2016, U-M launched the “Support. Listen. Empower.” campaign that focused on three themes: bystander intervention, survivor support and educating the community on the resources available through SAPAC.
The university had a previous campaign called “Abuse Hurts: Recognize, Respond, Refer,” which launched in 2009, directed at faculty and staff on the effects of domestic and sexual violence.