April 6, 2016
Beginning July 1, the university’s Student Sexual Misconduct Policy will be replaced with a revised policy titled University of Michigan Policy and Procedures on Student Sexual and Gender-based Misconduct and other forms of Interpersonal Violence.
“The overarching goal of all our efforts in this area is to diminish the frequency of sexual misconduct, encourage those who have been subject to misconduct to come forward, to investigate complaints efficiently and fairly, and to render decisions that make our campus as safe as possible for everyone,” says President Mark Schlissel.
“We believe the revised policy is more transparent about our practices and will provide step-by-step, detailed information to all students about our process.”
The revised policy is designed to be more clear and efficient while continuing to ensure that all students are treated fairly throughout the process. Changes to the current policy were informed by the university’s experience with cases brought under prior university policies and updated federal laws and guidance.
Current matters will continue to be addressed by the existing Student Sexual Misconduct Policy until July 1.
Significant changes to the policy include:
• Expanding definitions of prohibited conduct to include gender-based harassment, intimate partner violence and stalking, with a clearer picture surrounding consent.
• Defining responsible employees and their obligations for sharing information about suspected sexual assault, sexual or gender-based harassment, intimate partner violence and stalking with the university.
• Providing further detail on how the university shares information with law enforcement to ensure public safety and comply with federal reporting and timely warnings.
• Procedural changes to continue to ensure a fair process and to enhance transparency of the process for claimants, respondents and witnesses. These include the use of an External Reviewer for appeals and a Sanctioning Board to determine sanctions.
• Clarification regarding policies and procedures that apply in various situations, such as when the respondent is an employee; the respondent is both a student and an employee; the respondent is a third party; or where the conduct committed is in the context of activities of a recognized student organization.
• Consideration of prior sexual contact between parties in the investigation process under specific limited circumstances, to aid in understanding the prior manner and nature of sexual communication. Prior sexual contact between parties will never be used to prove character or reputation. Prior sexual contact could be — and has been — used by the investigator in some situations. Even in the context of a relationship, consent to one sexual act does not constitute consent to another sexual act, and consent on one occasion does not constitute consent on a subsequent occasion.