Campus Sexual Assault Policy: Problems and Progress

A big THANK YOU to everyone who attended, participated, and worked on the conference - it was a huge success, and very insightful!

The University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women and our partners announce Campus Sexual Assault Policy: Problems and Progress, a two-day conference that took place on October 25-26, 2012 at the UM North Campus Research Complex. In the context of the April 2011 “Dear Colleague Letter” issued as guidance by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, this conference aimed to bring together institutional policy makers and community-based sexual assault response professionals to discuss and develop policies addressing student sexual misconduct under Title IX. The conference was designed so that research and promising practices presentations on Day One informed policy design workshops and policy recommendations on Day Two.

Campus Sexual Assault Policy: Problems and Progress focused on not only the impact of the Dear Colleague Letter but also the intersection of diversity with campus policy development. We explored cultural considerations in policy development and the impact of both campus sexual assault and the policies designed to address sexual violence on diverse survivors.

Campus Sexual Assault Policy: Problems and Progress was supported by a grant from the University of Michigan National Center for Institutional Diversity. Additional sponsors included, at UM, the Center for the Education of Women, the CEW Frances and Sydney Lewis Visiting Leaders FundAbuse Hurts, the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Student Conflict Resolution, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel, the Office of Institutional Equity, the Women’s Studies Department, theInstitute for Research on Women and Gender, the SHARP Center for Women and Girls, the School of Social Work, and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. The Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the Michigan Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention and Treatment Board were collaborating partners.

An Overview of the Conference 

Day One was open to all interested parties. Day One research and practice presentations focused on: 

  • the realities of campus sexual assault
  • supports and barriers to empowering diverse survivors
  • restorative justice
  • promising practices and pressing problems--such as reporting obligations, balancing survivor confidentiality and community safety, investigative procedures, and effective sanctioning--in creating policies to empower diverse survivors and create safe communities

Day Two provided opportunities to review, assess and develop institutional policies and practices.  We encouraged colleges and universities to send teams and to coordinate with their local community sexual assault response professionals.  Teams may have included, for example, the following:

  • Title IX coordinators
  • in-house counsel
  • student affairs leaders
  • directors of campus sexual assault programs and/or women’s centers
  • leaders of community-based sexual assault programs
  • directors of student conduct offices
  • directors of student housing
  • faculty governance leaders
  • student government leaders
  • campus and community law enforcement leaders
  • prosecutors and other criminal justice system leaders

Day Two focused on:

  • addressing legal considerations in Title IX compliance
  • incorporating new perspectives into thinking about effective ways to respond to the OCR Dear Colleague Letter
  • strategizing about campus policy design processes
  • consulting with policy experts
  • sharing experiences in responding to the Dear Colleague Letter with the Office for Civil Rights. 

If you have further questions or concerns regarding the 2012 Campus Sexual Assault Policy Conference: Problems and Progress, please contact U-M's Sexual Assault Prevention & Awareness Center at 734-764-7771