Agreement With Department of Justice

Utah State University signed a resolution with the U.S. Department of Justice on Feb. 12, 2020, after a review of the university’s response to reports of sexual misconduct involving students received between 2013 and early 2017. This review found system-wide failures in USU’s processes to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct and echoed the findings of an internal review USU conducted in fall 2016.

Sweeping Changes

USU acknowledged and accepted responsibility for failures and began a series of sweeping changes in fall 2016. New prevention programs were launched to train all USU students and employees, and USU rolled out the Upstanding bystander intervention program. USU's agreement with the DOJ has helped provide a blueprint for improvements since February 2020.

Completed Commitments to DOJ

Policies and Procedures

Working with the DOJ and in response to feedback from our campus community, the Office of Equity has updated and revised USU’s sexual misconduct policies and procedures. These updated policies and procedures prohibit sexual misconduct in university programs and activities, address reporting requirements for USU employees and provide supportive measures and a grievance process for individuals who experience sexual misconduct in a university program and activity.   

Most recently, in February 2023, USU implemented a revised version of its reporting employee (USU Policy 340) and a revised version of its sexual misconduct policy and grievance procedures (USU Policy 339 and USU Procedures 339), all approved by the DOJ.   

Further updates to these policies and procedures will likely be made to comply with additional changes to Title IX regulations from the U.S. Department of Education, which are expected to be released as early as March 2024. 

Mandatory Trainings

  • All incoming students attending a residential campus (Logan, Price, and Blanding) must complete in-person training regarding sexual misconduct prevention.
    • Completed each semester: Students must complete training to register for and attend the following semester. During fall 2022, 98% of incoming students completed training. 

  • All undergraduate and graduate students must complete annual online training in sexual misconduct prevention. Topics vary each year to keep content engaging.
    • Completed each semester: Students must complete training to register for and attend the following semester. During fall 2022, 98% of students completed training.

  • Most employees receive annual in-person or remote training about their responsibilities to report disclosures of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator.
    • Ongoing: New employees trained during the onboarding process.
    • Completed annually: Existing employees trained each year as part of annual compliance training. Must be done before wage increases take effect.

Additional Accomplishments

In addition to the work required by the DOJ, university faculty, staff, and administrators have accomplished the following.

Expanded Staffing and Resources:

The Office of Equity staff grew from four to 19 positions, including six deputy Title IX coordinators and prevention and resource specialists serving all three USU residential campuses. The prevention education staff includes an additional eight undergraduate student employees.

Created Annual Community Conference on Prevention:

USU partnered with CAPSA to host the first annual Northern Utah Conference to End Violence in summer 2022. The conference brings USU and community leaders and service providers together to collaborate and learn.

Released First Annual Report:

The Office of Equity released its first annual report, highlighting sexual misconduct and discrimination prevention and response efforts, in March of 2022. The office's most recent annual report can be viewed here:

Implemented Three Sexual Misconduct Climate Surveys:

USU launched its first climate survey for students in spring 2017 and has conducted them every other spring since. A separate survey in 2021 included questions for employees about their experiences. Results show progress: improved understanding about resources and reporting and increased trust in how USU handles reports and supportive measures.

Recognized by EVAWI for Ongoing Commitment to Start by Believing:

USU joined the national Start by Believing campaign in 2018 to support survivors and work toward eliminating victim-blaming attitudes and behaviors. In spring 2022, End Violence Against Women International recognized USU for its efforts.

Added Resources in USU Police to Support Survivors:

In spring 2020, USU Police hired an investigator to specialize in crimes against women. The department also began a partnership with the USU Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Information office to provide advocacy to victims during an investigation.

USU faculty, staff, and administrators work continuously to improve the university’s sexual misconduct prevention and response efforts. Learn more about this work by visiting the USU timeline.


The DOJ concluded that USU (1) had failed to respond appropriately to known sexual harassment creating a hostile educational environment, and (2) did not comply with Title IX's regulatory requirements.

Since its own internal review in fall 2016 revealed similar failings, USU has made sweeping changes that include the following actions:

  • Overhauled Title IX oversight and compliance: provided an additional layer of supervision above the Title IX coordinator; increased staffing in the Office of Equity with the hiring of four new positions, including a prevention specialist, a new Title IX coordinator and a new director in fall 2018, as well as a new supportive measures specialist and additional investigator in fall 2019.
  • Began reorganizing fraternity and sorority life and hired a coordinator to improve student safety and increase oversight and accountability.
  • Trained student-athletes in sexual assault prevention and bystander intervention annually, with new students receiving in-person bystander intervention (Upstanding) training their first semester. Athletics staff also receive annual training on Title IX compliance.
  • Created a Task Force and several working groups to recommend vast changes and implement them quickly, and formed a committee that meets monthly to coordinate and implement Title IX oversight, victim resources, and prevention efforts.
  • Conducted the university’s first campus climate survey on sexual misconduct to gauge student attitudes and experiences with sexual misconduct. A second survey, conducted in April 2019, shows an increased number of students who know how to report sexual misconduct, are aware of confidential resources, and think USU handles incidents fairly.
  • Added policy and procedures to the Student Code addressing how the university will handle anonymous reports and reports where the victim does not want to participate in an investigation and/or requests limited action by the university.
  • Created a risk assessment for all reports of sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking to ensure that USU responds appropriately when there is a threat to campus.
  • Partnered with the Utah Department of Health to tailor its bystander intervention program, “Upstanding-Stepping Up to Prevent Violence in Utah,” for USU campuses. Over 10,000 students have been trained in this program so far.
  • Began requiring all new students (freshman, transfer and graduate students) to complete an online sexual assault prevention program in their first semester. Those who do not complete the program are not able to register for the next semester.
  • Joined the global “Start by Believing” campaign to decrease victim blaming and increase support for those in the campus community who disclose sexual misconduct.