Regents to consider sex assault policy, tuition increase

Board will also review admissions audit, changes to student conduct code and faculty retirement plans.

Allison Cramer

At this year’s final Board of Regents meetings on Thursday and Friday — the first since October — the regents will discuss and act on a new administrative sexual assault policy, collective bargaining agreements and a tuition increase for some students, among other matters.

Sexual assault policy

The Board will vote on a new administrative sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking and relationship violence policy Friday. The policy, which underwent a 30-day public comment period, would go into effect Jan. 1, if approved.  

The proposed administrative policy includes several updates aimed at aligning the policy with federal Title IX guidance, including giving those accused of sexual misconduct written notice of the allegations and a chance to respond to the investigative report before a decision.

It would also implement an amnesty policy exempting reporters of sexual assault from drug or alcohol violations, except when someone gave alcohol or drugs to another “with the intent of causing them to become incapacitated and therefore vulnerable to experiencing prohibited conduct.”

“This is something that you definitely want to get right as an institution, for a healthy community and a healthy environment for education,” Regent Darrin Rosha said of the proposed policy.

Office of Admissions audit

The Board will also discuss an October audit from the Office of Internal Audit that reviewed Office of Admissions processes and practices. The audit identified 13 problems in total and provided recommendations for resolving each, according to docket materials.

The audit reviewed 58 fall 2016 applicants and found that two of the 10 admitted students sampled were accepted in error. Among these 58 applicants, first-level readers — the people who first review applications — made 76 manual entry errors when entering student data. Errors include incorrectly entering GPAs or high school rank. The audit also found that weighted GPAs were not converted to a 4-point scale, causing inconsistent review.

Collective bargaining agreement

At the meeting, the Board will also be approving a collective bargaining agreement between the University and two unions of University technical employees belonging to Locals 3937 and 3801.

Under the agreement, the 790 employees represented by the two unions will receive a 1 percent raise, with progression step increases for eligible employees.

“Balancing the need to ensure we’re taking care of our people, the people employed by the University, with the need to continue to keep higher education accessible by being responsible with our resources — it’s a constant process,” Rosha said.

Student group responsibility

The Board will review a modification to the student conduct code that would change standards of responsibility for a student group when one of its members violates the student conduct code.

Under the current language, a student group is not responsible for an individual member’s conduct unless they sponsor, organize or otherwise endorse the conduct. Under the proposed change, student groups will also be held responsible if an officer of the group knew or reasonably should have known the conduct was likely to occur and failed to take steps to prevent it.

NRNR tuition increase

The regents will also act on the proposal to raise non-resident, non-reciprocity tuition rates by 15 percent.

Regent Tom Anderson said he thinks everyone on the Board believes there should be an increase for non-residents.

“The Board made it a priority a year ago or so to set the non-resident tuition rates at approximately the middle of the Big 10. And we aren’t there,” Anderson said. 

In order to offer market-price salaries to attract the best professors, the University also needs to charge market price for an education, Regent Michael Hsu said.

“I’ve been a proponent for a long time that we do not charge enough for NRNR tuition. Between us and the other Big 10 schools, we are 13 out of 14 in terms of … cost for NRNR students,” Hsu said. “We’re leaving all this money on the table and we’re blaming all of our financial problems, to the extent that we actually have any, on state government.”

Faculty retirement plans

The board will also act on proposed amendments to the University faculty retirement plan, in order to correct historic contribution errors. 

An independent review conducted in 2016 found that failure to consider salary from summer appointments in determining retirement account contributions resulted in $905,544 in under-contributions and $380,054 in over-contributions to faculty retirement accounts, according to docket materials.

In addition, 187 individuals may have received additional contributions on portions of earnings that aren’t eligible for faculty retirement account contributions because of software errors. The value of these over-contributions is yet to be determined.