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Investigation: Office of Civil Rights reps meet with student groups

February 26, 2014

Department of Education spokesman Jim Bradshaw told The State News Monday that it is currently investigating Title IX sexual harassment and violence complaints that are pending against MSU. Neither the OCR nor MSU have provided additional information regarding the claims.

OCR hosted discussion forums all day Wednesday with various student groups, including representatives from MSU’s Sexual Assault & Relationship Violence Prevention program, male and female student-athletes, members of the Spartan Marching Band, fraternities, sororities and LGBT student groups.

The subject matter of the meetings has been kept confidential for the most part.

An email obtained by The State News from university Title IX coordinator Paulette Granberry Russell to members of the Spartan Marching Band referred to group participation as “voluntary and confidential.”

The email said the forums were geared toward discussing issues regarding the “campus climate.”

Although LGBT student groups had their own forum to discuss issues, LBGT Resource Center Director Deanna Hurlbert said she wasn’t informed about the OCR meetings until Tuesday night.

Because it was a forum closed to most students, Hurlbert said OCR contacted the students directly.

Volunteers for MSU’s Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention program also met with the OCR Wednesday.

Program advocate and media and information junior Laura Swanson said other advocates were not allowed to comment on the matters discussed.

In a previous interview with The State News, Swanson said she was not surprised by the investigation.

“It speaks to the whole culture that we are in general not believing of victims and their stories, and we don’t take the necessary steps to prosecute people,” Swanson said Monday.

MSU resident assistant officials, who also met with OCR Wednesday evening, declined to comment.

The OCR also will hold open office hours to meet with students Thursday. Between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. in room 112 Olds Hall and between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. in room 13 Olds Hall, representatives will be present to discuss issues with students.

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