FEDERAL JUDGE GRANTS FINAL APPROVAL TO LANDMARK UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT ADDRESSING ON-CAMPUS SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
Agreement will result in oversight and institutional reforms at UofM to address sexual assault, harassment, and other sexual violence; creates innovative Coordinated Community Response Team
A class action settlement between students and the University of Michigan will lead to the creation and implementation of best-in-class, institutional reforms at UofM that address and prevent sexual misconduct, add transparency and new voices into the University’s response to sexual misconduct, and help ensure a safer campus environment. The agreement, which follows the January 2022 resolution of economic claims related to Dr. Anderson’s abuse, comes after 18 months of negotiation between the parties, which included world-class experts on gender inclusion, safety, and institutional responsibility, overseen by a Court-appointed mediator. At the final approval hearing Judge Victoria Roberts called the settlement an “outstanding outcome” that she hopes is emulated around the country. Judge Roberts further stated, “I am proud to be a part of this and approve the settlement.”
As part of the settlement, UofM will form and fund a Coordinated Community Response Team (CCRT), a multidisciplinary standing committee made up of independent experts such as Title IX and campus sexual misconduct experts and representatives of the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office and SafeHouse Center, students, survivors, community members, and select members of the administration and faculty.
CCRTs are widely recognized by experts on sexual misconduct prevention as an indispensable tool to achieve comprehensive prevention of campus sexual violence. They have been adopted by colleges and universities throughout the country, including the University of South Florida and the University of California. The 2017 Report by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault identified CCRTs as the first of six primary elements of a comprehensive sexual misconduct prevention plan, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women requires colleges and universities to establish CCRTs to receive funding under its Grants to Reduce Violent Crimes Against Women on Campus Program.
This working group will bring transparency and diverse perspectives to the University’s response to sexual misconduct to ensure it is driven and considered by all community stakeholders – not just the administration. The CCRT will have a leadership team comprised of three co-chairs which includes an outside expert, and a robust team of members selected from the on-campus and surrounding communities. This group of campus and community stakeholders will be tasked with, among other responsibilities:
- Engaging stakeholders on all aspects of campus prevention and response to sexual violence;
- Developing, reviewing, and advising on policy and practice improvements;
- Educating the community about issues related to sexual violence;
- Regularly meeting with the University President; and
- Providing public updates on its efforts, including the University’s response to the CCRT’s recommended reforms, to provide accountability through transparency.
The plaintiff is represented by Sauder Schelkopf LLC, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, and the Miller Law Firm, P.C.
“We believe that these reforms will undoubtedly improve campus life for the next generation of students,” said Joe Sauder of Sauder Schelkopf LLC.
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If you are a survivor of sexual misconduct, you can confidentially contact the lawyers at Sauder Schelkopf by filling out the form on this page or calling 888.711.9975