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U.S. Department will oversee “systemic changes” at MSU for three years

michigan state university sign in front of a blue sky

A federal department plans to oversee changes at Michigan State University for the next three years.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services started a civil rights investigation into the university soon after the sentencing of Larry Nassar, the former university sports doctor serving a de facto life sentence for child pornography and for sexually assaulting his patients.

Now, the school has agreed to multiple changes. Those include a chaperone policy that requires allowing patients to request chaperones based on sex and requiring members of the health team be present for sensitive medical exams. Patients will also be provided with the appropriate gowns and privacy during those sensitive exams. The school will also appoint a person to investigate all sexual misconduct complaints filed by patients, staff or other people related to the MSU Health Team.

“We think that this will go a long way to ensure that something like this will never happen again at MSU and that has been our focus from the beginning,” said director of the Office of Civil Rights, Roger Severino.

New university president Samuel Stanley released a statement after the agreement was announced on Monday. He said the changes in the agreement will, “further enhance the many protection and policy improvements MSU has made since Nassar’s arrest.”

Stanley said those improvements include its own chaperone policy that was established in 2017, a triage protocol to review allegations of misconduct, and reviewing consent to treat forms during patient registration.

There will be on-site audits and staff and patients will be interviewed to ensure that policies are being implemented. Severino says this is a heightened level of oversight by the department. MSU will also have to submit written reports when asked by federal officials and follow record keeping requirements.

Severino said in a call with media, “This is an important change and we’re pleased by this outcome to hopefully bring some institutional change to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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