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Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct policy updated by Title IX office

September 21, 2017
Hannah Administration Building on Aug. 29, 2015. Courtney Kendler/The State News
Hannah Administration Building on Aug. 29, 2015. Courtney Kendler/The State News —

MSU's Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct, or RVSM, policy was updated last month by MSU's Title IX office. Changes to the RVSM policy ranged from editing for clarification to adding new appendices.

The biggest changes include new sanction guidelines, clarifying the process and employee responsibilities, updating the appeal process and adding a new glossary with updated definitions, MSU's Director of Title IX and ADA Compliance and Education Programs Jessica Norris said.

"Every year, we convene a multi-disciplinary team to review the policy and identify ways that we can continue to improve the policy and the procedures," Norris said. "That includes representation from student governance, the Council of Graduate Students, faculty, staff and then the offices that are directly involved in administering different elements of the policy. So it's a pretty sizable group of folks."

The group that made the changes to the RVSM written policy started meeting in the spring and continued meeting into the summer, Norris said.

Some of the key changes made were in response to community feedback from focus groups and town halls. Norris said MSU's Title IX office, the Office of Institutional Equity, or OIE, gathers feedback about individual experiences and ways the procedures can be improved.

The full RVSM policy can be found on the OIE website.

The sections discussing mandatory reporting and employee intervention are two areas that have been updated, Norris said.

"There's always been consequences if someone fails to report, but we wanted to really spell that out and be clear," she said. "We also clarified in the policy expectations for employee intervention when they're witnessing an unfolding or ongoing incident, so an expectation that they would call 911 and get help. We wanted to make sure that was explicitly clear."

The updated policy follows a year of controversy surrounding ex-MSU doctor Larry Nassar, who has been accused by more than 100 women and girls of abusing them under the guise of medical treatment. One of the major points of discussion over the past year was the role mandatory reporting had in the controversy.

Norris said a new appendix was created to detail sanction guidelines, and it includes added information to explain how the sanction panel is selected and trained.

"There's actually two appendices relating to that. One is aimed at students and one is aimed at employees. We essentially drafted a document to explain how our sanction panels and appeal officers are determining sanctions so that's clear to the community," Norris said.

One of the options students have during the OIE investigation process is to appeal a sanction. Although the student conduct sanction and appeals process hasn't changed, the RVSM written policy now includes a flowchart to depict how a student can navigate that process, Norris said.

Another major change was the creation of a glossary of terms. Previously, the terms would be defined throughout the policy, Norris said.

The policy will continue to be updated from year to year, Norris said.

"I do encourage people to go out there and take a look at the policies so they understand what their rights are, what the university's expectations are, and they're familiar with how the process works," she said. "I think it's very important for everyone in our community to be aware of that."

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