EAST LANSING (WWJ) — A law firm hired to review Michigan State University’s Title IX program found it complies with federal legal requirements, but that it can be improved.
The report — which was administered by the Kansas City-based law firm Husch Blackwell — was released on Monday, and said the Title IX program is in compliance but can be improved by making it more accessible and understandable for students and employees.
“MSU’s efforts, as demonstrated in its policy and procedures and related resources available on its website, in several respects, exceed those we have seen at other institutions, including large and complex organizations like MSU,” the report read.
Michigan State University spokesman Jason Cody acknowledged that there is room for improvement, and said the university will look at finding ways to make it easier to understand.
“It is not the easiest policy, or maybe the most intuitive, to read if you are a Michigan State student or staff member,” Cody told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Jon Hewett. “We acknowledge this so we are really going to look at how we can better streamline this.”
The Title IX program is in place to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual harassment, rape, and sexual assault, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. A college or university supported by federal funds can be held legally responsible when it openly ignores sexual harassment or assault in its programs or activities.
The report compared Michigan State to the other Big Ten schools and six other similar institutions that were not named.
The report released today was commissioned back in September, after four now former Michigan State football players were accused of sexually assaulting women in two separate criminal cases that are still pending.
Cody said that the Title IX program can be difficult to understand when it doesn’t involve criminal cases and an “administrative investigation” is conducted.
“When it comes to the criminal side of it, it’s pretty cut and dry,” Cody said. “If there is a crime committed (then) police will investigate, but on the Title IX side there are some nuances because we are not talking about criminal investigations, we are talking about administrative investigations. Those policies aren’t always well understood.”
The four former Michigan State football players — Josh King, Demetric Vance, Donnie Corley Jr. and Auston Robertson — were kicked off the team this summer after charges were pressed against each one in two separate sexual assault cases.
The second phase of Husch Blackwell’s report is expected to be released by the end of the 2018 spring semester. That portion of the report will focus on the effectiveness of Michigan State’s broader Title IX program.