Ohio State’s Progress on Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Reporting
Ohio State has committed substantial resources to prevent and address sexual misconduct over the past two decades. Developed and implemented by many different stakeholders across the university, these wide-ranging efforts include new policies, programs, staffing and tools, which are summarized below.
- Sexual Assault Committee established: The Office of Student Life constituted a new committee to respond to sexual assault complaints. The committee was designed to promote the development of policy and protocol to provide cohesive, compassionate services to the campus community; support holistic educational experiences that aim to address and eliminate sexual violence; serve as a central forum for the collection and distribution of information about sexual violence; and provide multiple perspectives and a knowledgeable and representative voice concerning issues of sexual violence.
- Sexual Violence Consultation Team created: Creation of a sexual violence consultation team to review all sexual misconduct complaints for appropriate resources, consistency of response and referral, and input on related issues and inquiries.
- Sexual Violence Education and Support established: The Office of Student Life created a new unit with dedicated staff focused on prevention and sexual violence support.
- Anonymous reporting line established: Implementation of EthicsPoint, the university’s first centralized reporting line allowing anyone to make anonymous reports of wrongdoing, including sexual misconduct allegations.
- Provider credentialing enhancements: Began administering provider credentialing for doctors in Student Health Services through the Wexner Medical Center.
- U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) review: Ohio State agreed to engage with OCR in proactive compliance review, which lasted until 2014. OCR’s comprehensive and detailed assessment of the university’s campus-wide Title IX infrastructure resulted in the university signing a Resolution Agreement in September 2014 that remains in effect.
- Title IX Coordinator designated: Designation of a Title IX coordinator to oversee the university’s efforts to comply with guidance from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Title IX, which expanded in 2011, is the federal law protecting higher education communities from discrimination resulting from sexual misconduct and abuse.
- Office of University Compliance and Integrity created: Creation of the Office of University Compliance and Integrity (OUCI) following a comprehensive, external assessment. The Title IX Coordinator was made a full-time position and transitioned to this new central office.
- Investigations infrastructure developed: OUCI added a specialized compliance investigator and launched skills training for investigative partners in Student Conduct, Human Resources and Athletics as part of an effort to help coordinate and oversee investigations across campus, which are conducted by more than 12 different units; EthicsPoint transitioned to OUCI; a new case management system was established; regular meetings among multiples units were instituted to track and address complaints.
- Title IX reporting and resources website established: OUCI created a dedicated website at titleix.osu.edu to receive sexual misconduct complaints and provide comprehensive information and resources to sexual misconduct complainants.
- University Risk Management Committee created: The first university-wide risk assessment was launched and a governance process of senior leaders was constituted to oversee work to mitigate identified risks. The risks managed by this committee relate to various academic, research, clinical, student life and business functions of the university that may involve faculty, staff, students or alumni. Given the size and scope of our university community, sexual misconduct was identified as a top potential risk. The Board’s Audit, Compliance and Finance Committee receives regular updates about these efforts.
- Athletics Institutional Controls established: Athletics Compliance implemented the Big Ten’s requirement of institutional control over intercollegiate athletics, which included formalizing the independence of key functions (e.g., medical services, compliance, etc.) and targeted Title IX training.
- Title IX Program Statement developed: OUCI developed a formal Title IX Program Statement in collaboration with other units. Deputy Title IX Coordinators were designated for Athletics, Human Resources and Student Life. Extensive sexual misconduct prevention and response training was launched. These efforts were codified through the Resolution Agreement signed with the Office for Civil Rights in 2014.
- Campus climate survey launched: Conducted a campus climate survey in partnership with the Association of American Universities to identify issues and provide data used to enhance training for awareness and prevention programming. Ohio State continues to conduct and communicate the results of climate surveys, most recently in fall 2019. These climate surveys, along with a review of past sexual misconduct complaints, allow the university to identify and provide increased training to groups that would benefit from further awareness and prevention programming.
- Sexual Misconduct Policy revised, mandatory reporting required: The university reviewed multiple policies related to sexual harassment and created a new, comprehensive Sexual Misconduct Policy that requires all employees (including student employees) to report sexual assault, and all faculty and supervisors to report all other forms of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator or designee.
- BuckeyesACT launched: Launch in 2015 of Buckeyes ACT, a community-wide approach to combat sexual misconduct through action, counseling and support, and training.
- Sexual misconduct training for all students and staff: Ohio State launched online sexual misconduct training for all members of the university community.
- Mandatory prevention education: Implementation of mandatory sexual misconduct prevention education for incoming students, including the Buck-I-CARE consent education program.
- Sexual Misconduct Assessment and Response Team created: The Title IX Coordinator established an ongoing process to review all sexual misconduct issues with representatives from across the university, including: Student Advocacy, Counseling and Consultation Services, Human Resources, Legal Affairs, OUCI, The Ohio State University Police Division, Residence Life, Student Conduct and Student Health Services.
- Concern Reporting framework updated: OUCI assisted the Office of Academic Affairs with a framework for students to report various concerns. These channels help ensure that concerns are promptly answered, triaged and routed to appropriate subject-matter experts and responsible offices. Where necessary, these channels help elevate concerns to the appropriate governance, regulatory or oversight individual or body; that concerns are appropriately and independently investigated; and that appropriate corrective actions occur.
- National expert engaged to develop leading model to serve students: The university engaged nationally recognized experts from law firm Cozen O’Connor to help create a redesigned, best-in-class model to support victims of sexual assault and conduct a thorough evaluation of the broader Title IX program.
- Creation of the Office of Institutional Equity: Ohio State announced the creation of the Office of Institutional Equity, a centralized office which includes additional staff and focuses on institutional prevention of and response to all forms of harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct.
- OSUWMC concern reporting emphasized: The medical center developed a badge for all staff highlighting EthicsPoint for concern reporting. Associated printed materials encourage reporting and underscore that retaliation is prohibited.
- Sexual misconduct prevention education expanded: Expanded requirement for all students, faculty and staff to complete sexual misconduct prevention education.
- Additional response resources added to Columbus campus: Ohio State added two confidential sexual violence advocates from the Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio (SARNCO) located on the Columbus campus. Additionally, a confidential and anonymous 24/7 helpline is available at 614-267-7020.
- Reinforcement of mandatory sexual misconduct prevention education: Any merit-eligible employee who does not complete the sexual misconduct prevention training by the annual deadline of June 30, 2020, will not be eligible for annual merit increases that take effect in September 2020. Incoming students (first-year and transfer students) must complete the education to register for the next semester's classes.
- Institution-wide initiative on shared values: The university partnered with the Ethics and Compliance Initiative — a nonprofit, external research organization and a recognized leader in the field of organizational survey work — to administer a values and ethics survey to all faculty, staff and students. This confidential survey allows respondents to provide their thoughts and feedback related to Ohio State’s culture and shared values. Feedback will be used to help enhance the student and employee experience, and inform, advance and integrate Ohio State’s ongoing and future efforts related to values and ethics.
- Task Force convened: The university’s Task Force on Sexual Abuse, announced following the university’s release of the independent investigative report on Richard Strauss, was convened to review recent sexual abuse cases and identify educational tools and best practices for fostering a culture of awareness and compliance in higher education. The task force will use the information detailed in the Strauss report and other sources to inform a safer future. The task force will partner with survivors of sexual abuse to further inform and advance its work — engaging with survivor-focused organizations such as the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) or others.
- Ohio State Mobile App: In 2019, the university added a feature on the Ohio State mobile app titled, “How to Get Help in a Crisis or Emergency,” which has information for those who have experienced sexual assault, relationship violence or stalking. This app also features a call button to call SARNCO’s 24/7 Sexual Violence Helpline. An article outlining resources for survivors of sexual misconduct was featured in the app and pushed to all student iPads during the second week of fall semester, as this can be one of the most at-risk times for students on college campuses. The article shared information about the Office of Institutional Equity, support resources for survivors of sexual misconduct and how to intervene to help fellow Buckeyes.
More recently, building on the above systems put in place over the past two decades:
- Improvements in Athletics: The university has made significant improvements in the Department of Athletics, including additional options for reporting misconduct and expanded training on incident-reporting requirements for staff, and medical and student-athlete support services. Other actions include prohibiting public access to locker rooms and training facilities, enhanced chaperone policies and providing student-athletes access to multiple physicians.
- Improvements at the Wexner Medical Center: Actions include the enhancement of the concern-reporting protocol to encourage the reporting of incidents and underscore that retaliation is prohibited. Additional enhancements have been made to policies concerning sensitive medical exams of all patients, including student-athletes. Per policy, student-athletes have a chaperone present during any sensitive medical exam. Further, in 2018, the medical center formalized a policy that outlines requirements for providing patients a chaperone for sensitive exams and also expectations for how a chaperone will function within the care setting.