Oct. 21, 2021
The U-M Board of Regents and President Mark Schlissel continue to work with the expert consulting firm of Guidepost Solutions to help the university maintain its forward momentum on combating sexual and gender-based misconduct by creating a culture of prevention, education, assistance and support where all university community members are protected from retaliation, unwanted behaviors are held accountable and trust is rebuilt.
Guidepost is collaborating with the university on a range of matters including the implementation of recommendations made July 31, 2020, in a report on the investigation into sexual misconduct by former U-M provost Martin Philbert. Below is an update on the status of the work being done on the recommendations included in the Philbert report by the WilmerHale law firm.
As of Aug. 1, 2021, the former Office for Institutional Equity was eliminated and created in its place is the Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office, with a new transformative approach centered around wellbeing and care. Additionally, the university has put in place improved policies and procedures including a first-in-the-nation adaptable resolution pilot program and appeals for employees and additional resources to further promote prevention and education effort, provide survivors, witnesses and respondents with enhanced support in addition to improved and streamlined investigative practices
Category 1: Ensuring that information about sexual misconduct and other inappropriate behavior reaches the Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office, and other the appropriate university officials.
Recommendation: Develop and adopt a standalone policy regarding consensual relationships between employees that requires notice and recusal and/or mitigation of possible conflicts of interest.
Status, Dec. 3, 2020: Partially complete. University Human Resources and the Office of the General Counsel have outlined key areas for enhancement for the current nepotism policy. This work will continue with guidance from Guidepost Solutions.
Updated status: The new policy, SPG 201.97, took effect July 15, 2021. It prohibits a supervisor from initiating or attempting to initiate an intimate relationship with anyone they supervise.
Recommendation: Ensure that students and employees are aware of the avenues for reporting sexual misconduct. This includes further education of the university community, including students and employees.
Status, Dec. 3, 2020: Several steps have been taken to enhance awareness:
Reporting avenues are directly linked from the top of the U-M gateway website (umich.edu).
An all-campus message on reporting options was sent Aug. 10, 2020.
The university rolled out Aug. 14, 2020, an interim umbrella policy for addressing sexual and gender-based misconduct that would apply to all students, faculty, staff and third parties across the university community.
Updated status: Complete. Reporting page linked from the U-M gateway website (umich.edu) was enhanced and streamlined, and continuing revisions to sexualmisconduct.umich.edu are planned in order to make more information readily available to the entire community.
The U-M Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct, Standard Practice Guide 601.89, employee procedures and student procedures all went into effect Oct. 1. Additional details of all university efforts are shared regularly with the university community on an ongoing basis.
The Our Community Matters resource guide was updated during the 2020-2021 academic year and will be updated again this fall.
Recommendation: Enhance the visibility and training of university personnel who are required to report information about sexual harassment that is reported to them or that otherwise comes to their attention.
Recommendation: Consider additional OIE training of certain groups such as Human Resources directors within campus units on reporting obligations regarding suspected sexual misconduct involving employees.
Status, Dec. 3, 2020: Training has been a high priority to OIE and others. OIE has completed training with dozens of groups on campus within at least half of the schools and colleges on the Ann Arbor campus. Additional units have scheduled training through the remainder of the 2020 calendar year and into the spring of 2021. Some groups also have received training from outside of U-M.
Updated status: Training continues to be a high priority for the newly formed ECRT Office. Additional campus outreach and training is planned as additional staffing for the new unit is put in place. ECRT also is developing a “quick quiz” so faculty and staff can quickly identify whether they have a reporting obligation.
Recommendation: Require that all employees receive annual online training regarding (1) the avenues for reporting sexual misconduct, (2) which employees are mandatory reporters, and (3) the reporting obligations of mandatory reporters (i.e. under what circumstances they are required to report and how they are told to do so.)
Status, Dec. 3, 2020: The university is committed to this effort, which will benefit from the insight of Guidepost Solutions. A new online training module for all “individuals with reporting obligations,” (IROs) under the interim umbrella policy is complete.
Updated status: The U-M Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct, Standard Practice Guide 601.89, employee procedures and student procedures have all taken effect as of Oct. 1, 2021. The policy and procedures detail who on campus is an individual with reporting obligations and under what circumstances they are required to report misconduct. Additional training materials are under development.
Recommendation: Ensure that all employees understand their role in responding to reports of sexual misconduct regardless of whether they are an individual with reporting obligations.
Status, Dec. 3, 2020: The university is committed to this effort, which will benefit from the insight of Guidepost Solutions.
Updated status: The online training module is available to all faculty and staff, and provides training on responding to disclosures of sexual misconduct, as well as encouragement to report, for those employees who are not designated as individuals with reporting obligations. Continuing revisions to sexualmisconduct.umich.edu website are planned in order to make more information on these topics, including via multimedia informational tools, readily available to the entire community.
Recommendation: Ensure that training identifies confidential resources available to the university community and include content on a bystander’s role in recognizing the warning signs of sexual misconduct and intervening when appropriate.
Status, Dec. 3, 2020: The university is committed to this effort, which will benefit from the insight of Guidepost Solutions.
Updated status: Confidential resource information is included in the reporting training module that is currently available to all faculty and staff. A module to be required is in the planning stages, and will include information about confidential resources and bystander intervention skills. The Our Community Matters resource guide was updated during 2020-2021 to reflect additional confidential resources designated under the 2020 Interim Policy. Continuing revisions to sexualmisconduct.umich.edu are planned in order to make more information on these topics, including via multimedia informational tools, readily available to the entire community.
Recommendation: Provide alternative oversight of sexual misconduct allegations involving senior members of the Provost’s Office, which is ordinarily responsible for overseeing OIE.
Status, Dec. 3, 2020: Completed. Amended Standard Practice Guides and the Interim Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct transfer investigation oversight to the executive vice president and chief financial officer when allegations involve senior members of the Provost’s Office staff or OIE offices on any of the three campuses.
Updated status: The newly formed ECRT office reports directly to the president. It was officially created Aug. 1 and 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. The policy transfers investigation oversight to the executive vice president and chief financial officer when allegations involve senior members of the President’s Office staff or ECRT offices on any of the three campuses.
Recommendation: Conduct a climate survey regarding sexual misconduct for faculty and staff and share the results with the community.
Status:, Dec. 3, 2020 Preparation for a survey has begun. A campuswide survey will require careful drafting, input, implementation and follow up. OIE has reached out and asked academic leaders to share any unit-based surveys to serve as valuable background. The university is committed to a campus survey and will benefit from the insight of Guidepost Solutions.
Updated status: Work continues to prepare for a campuswide survey. A committee is gathering this fall to discuss a survey on sexual harassment.
Category 2: Ensuring that OIE’s findings are based upon full investigations.
Recommendation: Evaluate OIE investigative practices to ensure that OIE is identifying and, as appropriate, pursuing additional investigative avenues when complainants decline to participate in an investigation.
Status, Dec. 3, 2020: OIE is proceeding with this evaluation and the development of additional avenues for gathering critical information.
Updated status: ECRT has created a standing meeting process for the Title IX coordinator to review allegations in which there is no participating complainant to identify any additional investigative, educational, or other remedial actions possible and appropriate under the specific circumstances of each case. ECRT uses all appropriate and available tools to seek additional information in order to ascertain whether an investigation is possible without a participating complainant. University policy formalized the Title IX coordinator’s ability to file a formal complaint to initiate an investigation process where there is sufficient access to information to conduct a thorough investigation, but the complainant(s) decline to participate in an investigation. This mechanism is regularly used in order to ensure thorough investigation of any allegation that an employee has engaged in a violation of university policy provided there is sufficient available information to conduct an investigation.
Recommendation: Establish a process for formally reviewing OIE investigative files to provide quality assurance and confidence in investigation procedures and outcomes.
Status, Dec. 3, 2020: Underway. OIE is committed to this effort, which will benefit from the insight of Guidepost Solutions.
Updated status: ECRT will continue to work with Guidepost Solutions.
Category 3: Ensuring that the university’s hiring decisions are informed by past findings of policy violations, including findings regarding sexual misconduct.
Recommendation: For internal candidates: Ensure that substantiated findings of policy violations and other misconduct are available to decision makers and systematically considered.
Recommendation: For internal candidates: Ensure that findings of policy violations and other misconduct by internal candidates for leadership positions are collected and accessible, and establish a formal written process for obtaining and considering such findings in promotion, tenure, appointment, reappointment and other hiring decisions involving internal candidates.
Recommendation: For internal candidates: Ensure that individuals involved in promotion, tenure, appointment and other hiring decisions involving internal candidates understand that previously unreported sexual misconduct should be reported to OIE.
Status, Dec. 3 2020: The Provost’s Office has established a process for checking with OIE regarding any faculty members being considered for promotion or tenure. Additionally, OIE and Academic Human Resources are consulted on any faculty members being considered for leadership positions and other awards. This work will benefit from additional insight from Guidepost Solutions.
Updated status: ECRT continues to work with Guidepost Solutions.
Recommendation: For external candidates: Review university procedures for vetting external candidates for faculty and staff positions and consider implementing a pilot program that enhances our ability to identify findings by previous employers of sexual or other misconduct.
Status, Dec. 3, 2020: The university conducts background checks for all external candidates and has begun to explore additional work in this area. This effort will benefit from additional insight from Guidepost Solutions.
Updated status: The university continues to work with Guidepost Solutions.