EAST LANSING — After a two-year vacancy, Michigan State University appointed a new person in May to take charge of all Title IX initiatives at the university.
As the new vice president for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance, Laura Rugless will now lead the university’s handling and prevention of discrimination and sexual misconduct.
“Really the role is intended to promote and protect civil rights for our students, faculty, staff and visitors," said Rugless.
In addition to promoting and protecting civil rights, Rugless and her team also practice additional efforts.
"A really important part of what the office does is our prevention, outreach and education. We have a very expansive effort in that area of the office. It has largely been focused on relationship violence and sexual misconduct,” stated Rugless.
Furthermore, the Title IX team is working with various groups, including diversity and inclusion partners, in order to go above and beyond the basics of the Title IX requirements.
“We aren’t just doing what the law requires, but we’re really going beyond that to ensure that our community is inclusive, safe, people feel like they belong here, and they can fully participate and thrive," said Rugless.
With the focus being on students, the Title IX team’s first priority is to create a robust civil rights plan with hopes to make MSU an example for other universities to follow.
“With respect to civil rights...Best in class, best practitioner, and really leading the way," she said.
As the fall approaches, Rugless is focused on making sure that students are educated and aware of the resources that surround them.
“Something that is really exceptional that MSU does, especially given the size of the student population, is provide any incoming and new students with an in-person training experience,” confirmed Rugless.
Moreover, for parents sending their students to college this fall, Rugless had a reassuring message.
"Specifically, for students who are coming here in the fall, we train the RAs (Resident Assistants) in these processes. So, oftentimes, they are the first point of contact for students in sharing information and supporting them," Rugless said.
For more information on Michigan State University's Title IX commitments and efforts, please visit their website.