He defended Michigan State vs. sexual assaults. Now he heads the Title IX Office

A Michigan State University attorney who defended the institution against sexual assault lawsuits is now heading the office handling sexual assault complaints — a move that is drawing criticism from victim advocates.

This month, Robert Kent was moved out of his assistant general counsel position and into the job of interim associate vice president of the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance — a decision made by MSU Interim President John Engler that is drawing scrutiny from critics, who say the move could send a discouraging message from the university. msu

“At every turn, they signal an unwillingness to deal with the culture, and a message to survivors that their voices don’t matter,” said Rachael Denhollander, the first Larry Nassar sex assault victim to come forth publicly. She said, in her view, the appointment of Kent to handle Title IX cases was the latest in a string of insensitive moves.  For the full story, click here …

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“On Campus While Black” – is the trend of reporting to police about the presence of persons of color on a college campus a new form of campus segregation, a form of micro-gentrification or simply years of campus diversity training missing the mark?

A Yale student has police called on her for sleeping in a common room, police are called on two black men while meeting at Starbucks, police are again called on two Native-American college-tour attendees – this trend of alerting police to the simple presence of persons of color has been trending nationally for the past week. When this occurs on a college campus, it can have a direct effect on overall diversity, inclusiveness and police interaction with students.  In all cases as stated above, there had been no crime as the 911 caller suggested – or has there been?  In many states, there are statutes on record that criminalize the filing of false police reports.  The question then becomes, is a 911 call to the police due simply to the presence of a person color on campus a “false police report.”  

In Massachusetts, for example, under G.L. c. 269, § 13A, “[w]hoever intentionally and knowingly makes or causes to be made a false report of a crime to police officers shall be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred nor more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than one year, or both.”

In California, “every person who reports to any other peace officer, … that a felony or misdemeanor has been committed, knowing the report to be false, woman-using-a-mobile-phoneis guilty of a misdemeanor if (1) the false information is given while the peace officer is engaged in the performance of his or her duties as a peace officer and (2) the person providing the false information knows or should have known that the person receiving the information is a peace officer.”  See, CHAPTER 7. Other Offenses Against Public Justice [142 – 181].  In Florida, a person who knowingly gives false information to a law enforcement officer concerning the alleged commission of any crime, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.  

While the various laws of many states are fairly consistent regarding false police reports, approaches by various colleges are not.  Diversity training on a college campus can address these important concerns while at the same time delivers a greater sense of inclusiveness to those students of color impacted.  Do you think colleges should be more aggressive in helping to prosecute the filing of false police reports?

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A black Yale graduate student took a nap in her dorm’s common room. So a white student called police

Looks like all those campus-wide diversity trainings just weren’t enough.  A white person voices suspicions about an innocuous person of color. Police are summoned. And the encounter is posted on social media, sparking outrage about racial profiling.  In what is becoming an all-too familiar episode, a black Yale University graduate student was interrogated by campus police officers early Tuesday morning after a white student found her sleeping in a common room of their dorm and called police.  For the full story, click here… Yale_University_logo.

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Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court finds that colleges possess a “special relationship” with students and an affirmative duty to take reasonable measures to prevent student suicide

In the aftermath of a tragic on-campus student suicide, the student’s family sued MIT for wrongful death.  The case progressed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.  The court concluded ” a university has a special relationship with a student and a corresponding duty to take reasonable measures to prevent his or her suicide in the following circumstances.  Where a university has actual knowledge of a student’s suicide attempt that occurred while enrolled at the university or recently before matriculation, or of a student’s stated plans or intentions to commit suicide, the university has a duty to take reasonable measures under the circumstances to protect the student from self-harm.  For the full decision, click here… 
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Happy Day of the Seafarer!

Explosive Title IX allegations – Student sues KY school district in Federal Court after employee uploads student’s nude pics to Russian pornsite without consent

Student alleges, in addition to 4th amendment violations, that a Kentucky high school employee confiscated her cell phone and uploaded the phone’s private pics to an adult website without her consent.  For the full complaint, click here…  

 

TIX

Nassar survivor says she was not given chance to appeal 2014 Title IX findings

Perhaps one of the most controversial revelations of Michigan State University’s handling of Larry Nassar is the outcome of a 2014 Title IX investigation filed by Amanda Thomashow.  While questions surrounding the conclusion of that report still remain, further review of MSU’s Title IX policies and procedures is helping to connect some of the dots, revealing the university may have violated policy when handling it.

That’s because, according to Title IX policies and procedures, Thomashow should have been given a chance to appeal the findings of the investigation, but she says the university never told her that she had the option of doing that.  For the full article, click here…

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The three important steps your institution can take right now to better prepare for the upcoming OCR Title IX Guidance Document/DCL 2018

As most institutions await the 2018 Title IX policy changes from OCR based in part on the 2017 interim guidance, several steps can be taken now to prepare your institution for this change.  There are several prudent steps that can be implemented now that will place your institution in a more favorable position to incorporate successfully these upcoming changes.  

Policy Review – Does your current Title IX policy, training of staff and sexual-assault investigative techniques meet present guidelines?  Does your institution’s website homepage state your Title IX Coordinator? 170117-betsy-devos-rhk-1924p_ddf06ad3f6c00ab71a786cb104bb39e8.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000With regard to the required Notice of Rights and Options, for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, etc. your Notice of Rights and Options should include the following information in order to be compliant with the Clery Act and Title IX.  Does your Notice of Rights and Options inform victims that the institution will provide written notification to students and employees about existing counseling, health, mental health, victim advocacy, legal assistance, visa and immigration assistance, and other services available for victims, both within the institution and in the community?

Assembling a team – has your home institution assembled a Title IX policy implementation team in anticipation of the expected 2018 Title IX policy changes?  Many public institutions, for example, require Board of Trustees approval, public notice, and other procedural steps before changes to institutional policy can be achieved which may delay implementation.

Setting aside/securing funding for any additional Title IX training, etc., needed to effectively implement changes.  This step is key.  While the exact date of the upcoming Title IX policy changes is unknown, best practice indicates following these initial steps now will place your institution on more solid ground in order to achieve Title IX Compliance in accordance with the upcoming 2018 expected changes.

Contact University EEO, Inc. today to assist your institution in comprehensive Title IX, Clery Act Compliance/Assessments & Investigations

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