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Title IX lawsuit against MSU will proceed

November 20, 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 —

An MSU-related Title IX federal lawsuit has been given the green light to proceed, despite a request to dismiss the lawsuit from MSU's attorneys. The lawsuit, filed by MSU alumni in 2015, was given approval to proceed by a federal judge on Nov. 2.

The MSU alumni, or the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, are Emily Kollaritsch, Shayna Gross and Jane Roe 1. The defendants are MSU's Board of Trustees and Vice President for Student Affairs and Services Denise Maybank.

Previously, there were more plaintiffs and defendants involved, but those additional names were terminated from the lawsuit. Some were terminated Nov. 2: plaintiff Jane Roe 2, defendant and MSU President Lou Anna Simon, defendant and MSU Provost June Pierce Youatt and defendant and previous MSU Title IX coordinator Paulette Granberry Russell.

Each plaintiff alleges that during her time at MSU, she was sexually harassed or assaulted by another student and that she reported those actions to MSU. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs accuse MSU of not following Title IX procedures or Michigan's Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, and they also allege their constitutional right of due process was violated.

While these women allege MSU didn't follow Title IX procedure, MSU was found to be Title IX compliant in an independent review conducted by a third party, the law firm Husch Blackwell. A report filed Monday by the law firm found that MSU's current policies and procedures reflect a strong commitment to combatting sexual misconduct and creating a safe campus environment, but also found that MSU could improve its mandatory reporting procedure and streamline its policy.

The lawsuit is one of 12 total federal lawsuits MSU is involved in. Of the remaining cases, nine are related to ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, one is tied to equal employment opportunities and the last comes from the National Policy Institute and Richard Spencer.

With the go-ahead from a federal judge, the lawsuit will continue just as it has for the past two years.

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