MSU Title IX review: ‘Code of silence’ in Greek life
During a review of Michigan State University’s Title IX program by an outside law firm, some expressed concerns about Greek life and the lack of school oversight, particularly in relation to sexual assault, according to a report released Wednesday
“A few participants expressed concern that a ‘code of silence’ may exist within the Greek community, where individuals may feel either direct or indirect pressure to not bring forward reports of sexual misconduct that take place within the Greek system,” the report said. “Some participants explained that the perception around the Greek community as a ‘closed community’ may be compounded by a lack of resources within MSU’s office of Student Affairs to work to engage and liaise with this community in an open and meaningful way.”
The report was by Kansas City-based Husch Blackwell. It was commissioned under the administration of former President Lou Anna Simon in September 2017, one year after the first public accusation against Larry Nassar emerged. Husch Blackwell, a Kansas City law firm, was selected to conduct the report.
At the time, Simon said it was to “prevent sexual assault, support victims and encourage reporting.”
Costs of the report were not available Wednesday, said MSU Spokeswoman Emily Guerrant.
The report touched on conversations with numerous populations at Michigan State. Among them were graduate students serving as teaching or research assistants, who said they do not feel properly trained to deal with a student who might report sexual misconduct to them.
“(A)lthough many of them are subject to the university’s mandatory reporting requirement for incidents of sexual misconduct, they do not receive adequate training,” the report said. “Participants also argued that MSU’s sexual misconduct training needs to address how to respond to a disclosure ‘as a human being,’ rather than merely impressing upon them how to ‘hand-off’ a report to the Title IX coordinator.”
In a statement, interim MSU President John Engler said many efforts recommended by the preliminary report were already underway.
“Since the preliminary report was released in March, we’ve already started addressing many of the suggestions including adding new staff resources, creating the foundation for new education and outreach programs, and evaluating ways to review the campus climate,” Engler said. “This final report will help inform how we proceed with formulating a variety of strategies to address the findings.”