I was so incensed by the news that Michigan State’s women’s lounge was closing in favor of something more “inclusive” that I wrote the university’s president imploring her to re-open it. I kept it short and to-the-point:
Safe spaces for women and other minorities are absolutely necessary. We’re not living in a post-sexist society. Women need women-only spaces to protect them from abusive, entitled, misogynists. Re-open the women-only lounge.
As MSU continues to evaluate facilities and programs to ensure access for all students, plans are under way to convert the space that has historically been used as a women’s study lounge in the MSU Union. This decision was reached to ensure access for all students, consistent with the University’s federal Title IX obligations, and not as the result of any one individual’s complaint. The redesign and construction of the space is slated for completion in August 2016 and will include lactation space and a quiet study lounge that is open to all students.
MSU is committed to creating and maintaining a safe and inclusive campus for all students. As part of that commitment, all students should be able to study and utilize campus spaces without experiencing harassment or discrimination. Students experiencing harassment or discrimination are encouraged to report to MSU’s Office of Institutional Equity and where violations of MSU’s policy are found, individuals will be held accountable. Information will be posted in the quiet study lounge describing how students can obtain immediate assistance. By reporting and addressing such behaviors we can send a clear and decisive message that harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated on our campus and together we can cultivate a campus community where all students feel safe.
Office of the President and Board of Trustees
Michigan State University
426 Auditorium Road
Hannah Administration Building, Suite 450
East Lansing, MI 48824-1046
Ph. (517) 355-6560
Fx. (517) 355-4670
Additionally, there was information in many of the other grievance files that OCR reviewed to support that the complainants were subjected to a sexually hostile environment and in some cases there was information to support that the University’s failure to respond appropriately might have led the complainant or others to continue to be subjected to a sexually hostile environment. Further, in two of the grievance files OCR reviewed, both of which involved complaints of sexual harassment filed against University employees, OCR determined that the files reflected flawed analysis. In these cases, the University’s own documentation strongly supported that a sexually hostile environment existed. In one of these cases, the University’s documentation supported that the University’s failure to respond adequately to initial complaints regarding an employee’s behavior, and the employee’s continued additional acts of harassment after the University failed to adequately address his behavior, led to a continuing hostile environment for a number of other employees. (emphasis mine)