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 docket unknown ( No Court )
Additional Docket(s) 15-14-2114  [ 14-2114 ]
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Education
Case Summary
On June 9, 2011, a student at Michigan State University (MSU) filed a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights against the university. The complainant claimed that MSU had discriminated against her on the basis of sex when it did not adequately responded to ... read more >
On June 9, 2011, a student at Michigan State University (MSU) filed a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights against the university. The complainant claimed that MSU had discriminated against her on the basis of sex when it did not adequately responded to her report that she had been sexually assaulted by two male students in a dorm room in fall 2010. Specifically, the complainant asserted 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 university acted with undue delay in addressing the allegation. The complaint stated that the university did not attempt to contact the male student until over a month after the woman 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 made her initial complaint. The complainant also claimed that she attempted to seek counseling from the university, but was told there was a long waitlist.

OCR found that MSU maintained a sexually hostile environment and that the university's failure to respond promptly and appropriately to complaints may have caused additional staff and students to be exposed to sex discrimination. In addition, OCR found that MSU improperly conducted its internal Title IX grievance procedures. In several instances, MSU's documentation supported finding that sexually hostile environment existed. Nevertheless, the university determined that there was insufficient evidence to support a finding of sexual misconduct.

On August 28, 2015, the university entered into a resolution agreement. MSU 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 complaints 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 the two students who filed OCR complaints, and engage in extensive record-keeping and reporting.

OCR stated that it would continue to monitor the enforcement of the resolution agreement until it determined that Michigan State University fulfilled all required terms. Since this resolution agreement, Michigan State University has been subject to several subsequent allegations related to its mishandling of sexual misconduct. As of November 2018, there is no evidence that the U.S. Department of Education has closed this case.

Katherine Reineck - 11/08/2015
Hope Brinn - 11/02/2018


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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
Training
Defendant-type
College/University
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Out-of-court
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. ยงยง 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
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Order Duration 2015 - 2018
Filing Year 2011
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Resolution Agreement
ED-MI-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/28/2015
Findings Letter
ED-MI-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/01/2015
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

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