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Senate Panel Passes Higher Education Budget – No Penalties For MSU, New Sexual Assault Reporting

Michigan State Senate
Wikipedia Media Commons

Michigan universities might have to report all campus sexual assaults to their governing boards.

The measure is a requirement under the Senate’s higher education spending bill.  It was approved by a committee Wednesday, and would require that every sexual assault complaint filed with the Title IX officebe reported to the school’s governing body. 

Senator Curtis Hertel(D-East Lansing) is on the committee and sponsored the measure.

“I want to make it clear from the Legislature that we want people to listen and the leadership of your university is going to know about any Title IX case you make,” he said.  “It’s not going to be swept under the rug, everyone is going to know, including the leaders at your university.”

The provision is, in part, a response to the evolving scandal at Michigan State University.  The university is under investigation for its handling of sexual assault complaints.  Multiple women say they reported former MSU doctor Larry Nassar to MSU officials – but they did nothing.  Nassar is currently serving multiple decades in prison for sexual assault.

MSU would also be spared a budget hit under the plan.  It is currently under investigation by multiple organizations, including thestate Attorney Generaland the NCAA for its handling of sexual assault complaints.  And committee chair, Senator Tonya Schuitmaker (R-Lawton) said the committee discussed penalties for the school, but decided against it.

“To punish financially and monetarily Michigan State was really just going to punish the students at Michigan State, in terms of having tuition increase and that’s the last thing we want to do is punish students,” she said.

The budget bill also calls for more money for higher education institutions than Governor Rick Snyder’s proposal.  It would give an extra $14.3 million to universities for campus safety programs, sexual assault prevention, and student mental health programs.  The legislation now heads to the full Senate for consideration. 

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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