Eastern Michigan University had apparently attempted to cover up the rape and murder of one of its students, Laura Dickinson, when they falsely reported that her death had involved no foul play. The Department of Education investigated the university on charges that it violated federal crime-reporting act (the Clery Act) that also covers sexual assault, and assessed a $350,000 fine. Additionally, however, the agency's investigation extended into possible violations of Title IX stemming from weak or nonexistent policies and practices aimed to protect students from sexual harassment and assault. This investigation produces a resolution agreement under which the university is obligated to undertake a variety of measures from adopted and publicizing nondiscrimination policies that expressly include sexual harassment and assault, as well as grievance procedures to address claims of sex discrimination involving students, faculty, staff, and third parties. The university must also appoint and train a Title IX Coordinator to coordinate the university's efforts at compliance. The agreement includes more creative, proactive requirements as well, including that the university:
- establish a committee of students to ensure that students understand their rights and the university's responsibilities under Title IX, and to recommend strategies to address and prevent instances of sexual harassment and assault;
- review campus police records for the last school year, and for any instances of sexual assault that were treated solely as criminal matters, assess whether violations of Title IX occurred, whether remedies were effective, and to take any necessary additional steps to ensure that the matter is effectively addressed
- address sexual harassment and assault at freshman orientation
- and establish an on-call victims assistance program
Assistant Secretary Russlyn Ali says that by including measures "far more robust" than what OCR has sought in the past, these agreements change the paradigm for how all colleges and universities will address campus sexual assaults.