GEU: Denise Maybank shouldn't have power to overturn sexual assault investigations
This past week, the Graduate Employees Union, or GEU, released a petition asking current Vice President for Student Affairs and Services Denise Maybank to be more transparent in her decision making.
Because of the recent federal investigation, MSU has taken measures to combat the “critical failures” of the school's sexual conduct and sexual assault policy, including expanding the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy, or RVSM, and establishing the new Office of Institutional Equity, or OIE.
However, the GEU's petition states that the OIE's effectiveness “has been systemically undermined by the actions of Denise Maybank, the Vice President for Student Affairs and Services.”
Currently, Maybank has the exclusive executive power to repeal final decisions made by the OIE, which according to the petition is problematic.
“If we are to have confidence in the infrastructure for investigations and punishments put into place to address the university's civil rights violations, Maybank should rarely have to change any decision,” the petition states.
Yet, those who signed the petition say the vice president has been meddling in OIE decisions too often.
For example, one student, “whose conviction was upheld in the internal appeals process made a final appeal to Denise Maybank,” who then hired an external legal firm to investigate the case and eventually overturned the original conviction made by the OIE.
Maybank has recently come under fire for these decisions, and is currently named in a class action lawsuit against MSU in which four students claim the university mishandled their sexual assault investigations.
However, Charles Loelius, vice president of organizing and outreach for the GEU, said the blame should not be placed entirely on Maybank. Loelius believes anyone in her position would be faced with similar challenges.
The problem is the centralized system itself, he said, and Maybank should not be faced with those decisions.
Loelius said the system should make evidence and decisions more transparent as well as “relinquish some of the oversight power to achieve fairness and justice for the survivors.”
“This is something we can all agree on,” he said.
Loelius said he believes the overpowered executive position itself was to blame for the mishandling of certain evidence and cases.
Relying on “good faith” with an opaque system is “certainly very worrisome for the victims,” and “raises questions about the efficacy of the system,” he said.
Loelius continued by saying the system must perform in a way that doesn’t cause more harm for the victims and focuses on survivor support.