The University of Michigan has reached an agreement to settle a lawsuit filed by students who wanted to change how the school protects campus from sexual misconduct.
The University of Michigan has reached an agreement to settle a lawsuit filed by students who wanted to change the way schools protect campus from sexual misconduct.
As part of the agreement, which was filed in federal court Thursday, the Ann Arbor School University will create and fund a multi-departmental standing committee designed to protect the community from sexual harassment.
The Integrated Community Response Team will consist of approximately 30 members, including Title IX and Campus Sexual Abuse Specialists, community members, and selected members of the administration and faculty.
“But I think the most important thing is that it represents students and survivors,” said Nancy Cantalupo, an assistant professor of law at Wayne State University. “All of them will have a seat at the table along with other experts at CCRT.
“And it will give them a direct line of communication in the administration – and at the highest levels of administration – to communicate their concerns and their needs,” Cantalupo said in a video conference call with reporters announcing the settlement.
The school has been hit hard by allegations that sexual harassment by the late Robert Anderson, a campus doctor who spent nearly 40 years in Michigan, began in public in 2020 from hundreds of men. He died in 2008. In January, the school announced a $ 490 million settlement with Anderson’s defendants – a separate legal action from a class-action lawsuit filed by Josephine Graham, a senior at the University of Michigan. Both agreements have reached court-appointed arbitration supervision, the school said.
Also, Mark Schlesell was removed from the post of university president earlier this year when details of an alleged inappropriate sexual relationship between him and a subordinate were found. And the university has paid 9.25 million to eight women who have been accused of mental or sexual abuse by Martin Philbert, who has been a professor to provost, senior academic officer in Michigan for more than 25 years. He was removed in 2020.
“We know there has been a breach of trust at this school,” said Graham, whose case, filed in 2021, did not seek financial relief.
The key to the settlement, which still needs the approval of U.S. District Court Judge Victoria Roberts, is the creation of the CCRT, which plaintiffs’ attorneys say is widely recognized by experts as an essential tool in the fight against sexual violence on campus.
The entire Michigan CCRT will meet at least three times a year to “evaluate, plan, monitor and evaluate sexual abuse prevention and response efforts,” the university said in a statement.
It will be co-chaired by an external advisor, a faculty member and executive director of the University’s Office of Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX.
Next, Tamiko Strickman, who also serves as special adviser to the school’s president, Mary Sue Coleman, said a review of the existing integrated community response team elsewhere led her to one at the University of California, Berkeley, whom she sees as a university model. Of Michigan
“We found a lot of people whose CCRT was small, and a very comparable one at Berkeley, we thought, the organization should look,” Strickman said. “So, I spent a lot of time learning about their CCRT.”
“There are a lot of unnecessary areas that we can really capitalize on with the help of CCRT,” he said.
Find the full AP coverage of the University of Michigan sexual harassment case here: https://apnews.com/hub/robert-anderson