University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Department of Education investigation of Michigan State University ED-MI-0005
Docket / Court 15-11-2098 ( No Court )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Education
Case Summary
On June 9, 2011, a student at Michigan State University filed a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights against Michigan State University. The complainant claimed that the university had discriminated against her on the basis of sex when it did not ... read more >
On June 9, 2011, a student at Michigan State University filed a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights against Michigan State University. The complainant claimed that the university had discriminated against her on the basis of sex when it did not responded to her report that she had been sexually assaulted by two male students in a dorm room in fall 2010. Specifically, the complainant claimed that, although the university moved the male students' housing assignment to prevent them from having contact with her, the male students were moved to newer (and better) housing, and that the university's failure to terminate the male students' housing contracts was contrary to the university's protocol. The university conducted an investigation to determine whether a violation of protocol had occurred, but the investigator determined that the evidence did not support that finding because there was insufficient evidence to determine that the sexual conduct was unwelcome.

On January 29, 2014, another MSU student filed a complaint with OCR against the university. She claimed that she had been discriminated against on the basis of sex when MSU did not respond to her report that she had been sexually assaulted by a male student at a fraternity house in fall 2012. Specifically, this second complainant alleged that the university did not attempt to contact the male students until over a month after she filed a formal complaint with the university. Though the final investigative report was issued in July 2013, the hearing did not take place until November 2013. The male student's dismissal from the university was not officially implemented until January, 2014, nearly a year after the plaintiff filed her complaint. She also claimed that she attempted to seek counseling from the university, but was told there was a long waitlist.

OCR found that the a sexually hostile environment existed at MSU and that the university's failure to respond promptly and appropriately to complaints may have caused additional staff and students to be exposed to a sexually hostile environment. OCR also found that in some grievances, the university's documentation supported that a sexually hostile environment existed but no sexual harassment had been found.

On August 28, 2015, the university agreed to a resolution agreement. The university agreed to provide students with an orientation session about sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, and give special training to university staff including the university police, student athletes, and fraternities and sororities. It also agreed to assess its staff and resources in its Title IX investigation and counseling departments, conduct climate checks, create a Sexual Violence Advisory Committee, examine past grievance files to determine whether they had been properly handled, meet with the complainants from some of the files reviewed by OCR where no sexual harassment had been found to discuss remedies, offer reimbursement and support to both students who filed OCR complaints, and engage in extensive record-keeping and reporting. The monitoring of this agreement is ongoing.

Katherine Reineck - 11/08/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Defendant-type
College/University
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.
Defendant(s) Michigan State University
Plaintiff Description Two Michigan State students who had reported incidents of sexual assault and sexual violence to the university
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2015 - 2018
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Courts and Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity Through the State Courts
By: Michael Rebell (Columbia University, and Campaign for Educational Equity)
Citation: (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Links Dear Colleague Letter: Athletic Activities Counted for Title IX Compliance
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html
Posted: Sep. 17, 2008
By: United States Department of Education—Office of Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Resolution Agreement 08/28/2015
ED-MI-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Findings Letter 09/01/2015
ED-MI-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Chandra, Meena Morey (Ohio)
ED-MI-0005-0001 | ED-MI-0005-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Zayko, Kristine (Michigan)
ED-MI-0005-0001 | ED-MI-0005-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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