Join guest host Stacie Kroll and guests Joe Storch and Andrea Stagg as they discuss the recent legislation of the CHIPS Act of 2022 (Combating Sexual Harassment in Science) that includes significant policy changes relating to sexual harassment for funding recipients in the STEM fields. Learn more about the changes in legislation that will have lasting change and impact on the field of higher education and how it will address STEM sexual harassment in a profound and useful way.
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Grand Rivers Solutions See PDF article attached
2022 URMIA Emerging Risk project [member login required]
Joe Storch- Senior Director of Compliance and Innovation Solutions, Grand River Solutions
Andrea Stagg - Director of Consulting Services, Grand River Solutions
Stacie Kroll, Executive Director, Higher Education Practice, Gallagher
Stacie Kroll: Welcome to the URMIA Matters podcast. I'm Stacie Kroll, managing director of Gallagher's Higher Education Practice, and I'm delighting to be a guest host on today's episode where I'm joined by Joe Storch and Andrea Stagg from Grand River Solutions. The impetus for this podcast was around a project that we're working on with the board of directors and the affiliate committee surrounding identifying emerging risks that, uh, we don't quite have all the information for yet, but we feel it permit to get the materials in the hands of our offers. Um, so when we, uh, pitch the idea to the affiliates committee, Joe and Andrea Ecstatically raised their hand and said, I have an idea for a podcast. We need to be talking about the CHIP and Science Act. And really what we're gonna be talking about today are updates to reporting and responding to her ex and the STEM fields for institutions who receive certain grant activity. So, Joe, Andrea, tell us a little bit more about why this is important and why we're doing our URMIA Matters podcast on it.
Joe Storch: Well, excellent. Thank you, Stacie, and thank you to Michelle and Rachel and to the whole group for inviting us. What a pleasure it is to be with you. It's interesting to talk about this as an emerging risk because of course, sexual harassment, sexual and interpersonal violence are long. Things that we have been addressing, both inside and outside of education, inside and outside of higher education. But we do have this very interesting new approach from Congress as part of the $52 billion CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. Congress spent about 10 pages providing higher education institutions with some addition-al information on actions that the government will take, programs that they will develop, reporting processes that they will develop and indeed some potential funding out there to address harassment and violence in the area of sexual and interpersonal violence, sexual harassment that especially occurs in our science, technology, engineering, and math programs. And Andrea, of course, this comes within the scope of changes in Title IX, potential changes in other areas of federal law.
Andrea Stagg: Yeah, and that's why the OSTP, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which is a White House, you know, executive office is tasked in this legislation with coordinating with specific other, you know, agencies and departments, including the Department of Education's office for civil rights about what, what they're gonna be doing here. So, you know, they're not doing it on their own. That would be a nightmare because we'd have different agencies writing their own rules at the same time. And that could conflict with each other or also be confusing. Just people might, you know, not remember what's a may and what's a must and what's a Department of Ed thing and what's a OSTP thing. And that can be confusing, especially because not. Not everyone will have to follow whatever comes out of, uh, you know, OSTP, because if you're not a grant recipient for one of these funding agencies, then you don't have to worry about those requirements. But if you are a recipient, uh, a federal funds purposes of Title IX, you will have to comply. So not everyone is going to be dealing with both sets of rules, but if you, if you have, you know, anyone on the campus that's receiving, you know, grant funding from these agencies, then they'll wanna keep an eye on this. And you, you know what I wanna talk about, especially Joe, this is something you and I were talking about when this first came out, is how needed this legislation was because each agency was sort of doing their own thing. As far as, I think the best intentions, right? So, we wanna make sure we're not giving this money to, you know, a department or to an individual researcher who is committing harassment or violence. So, we're gonna ask the institution that's being funded to answer certain questions at a test, you know, to report incidents that are reported to them, but you had diff- sort of a different set of rules with, you know, not enough staff probably to implement them. I would call up an agency when I was working out of college, I called up an agency and said, what do you mean by, you know, for example, so what do you mean by a discrimination harassment complaint in the STEM field? Related to the STEM field? Do you mean that the faculty, it's related to faculty who teach STEM classes? Do you mean that it's students who have a STEM major? Students who are in a STEM class when the incident occurred, what, you know, what do you mean? What's the scope? And the person I called at the agency said, That's a really good question. I don't know, right? So, you know, we don't know what, and all you wanna do is be in compliance, follow the rules. You don't wanna be the reason, you know, someone in risk management or counsel or sponsored programs doesn't wanna be the reason why someone loses their funding so you wanna answer accurately and you can't answer accurately if you don't understand what they're asking. And all of these disparate instructions and rules weren't helping anybody, so, let's talk about that more, Joe.
Joe Storch: Yeah. So, over the last half decade, NSF, NIH, and NASA had each done a separate rule making or publication process, asking, um, institutions to report slightly different things, right? And in general, putting them all together. They wanted reports of certain negative activity that occurred generally by leadership on a grant. So, a principal investigator, and for those who are not in the sponsored programs lingo, the principal investigator is the person whose name is on the grant, right? They are the chief or the head of that grant. Even though they may report to many other people on the college campus, they're the ones who sign off their name is the one that's on the line, or a co-principal investigator. Often, you'll have multiple principal investigators and in certain cases, other grant leadership, whatever that means, right? And so, the worry that I always had from the risk management perspective is that this would happen too rarely for institutions, most institutions to do the right thing. And that's sort of a weird thing to say, but what I mean by that is if something happens all the time, it happens monthly, it happens weekly- we get into a groove. Uh, when somebody starts, we say, oh, remember, this is about to happen, it's gonna 10 more times this year. This is what you do. This is what you do. This is what you do. For an institution that might have dozens or a handful of folks who are sponsored program employees who might have just a few grants for which they have principal investigators, this might happen once a decade or less, and the risk is that because it happens so rarely, we won't know what to do or we won't remember what to do from that training we had back in 2018 or 2020 when this happens in 2033, specifically that a principal investigator of a grant is accused of sexual harassment, and it starts going through a process. So, that was always my fear, and especially compounded by the fact that different agencies were coming on at different times and putting. Their own process. So, one of the things, one of the principal things that the CHIPS and Science Act did Andrea, is, is to say, hey, listen, OSTP at a couple of allied agencies, including the Department of Education, come up with a single portal, a single standard, a single reporting regime, so that institutions are not reporting inconsistently on different time. Reporting on different groups of people, reporting on different types of violations. And I think you and I are generally fans of efficiency.
Andrea Stagg: Absolutely. And I also think about how, you know, let's say there's right could, could someone who had committed or been reported for some violation that would be reportable in one agency's field and not in the other agency that just, you know, seek grant funding in the other one. You know, you're also trying to avoid that sort of the past, the harasser of center from institution to institution, from funding agency to funding agency. So, and having one place, also, we have, you have faculty who have grants from, from multiple agencies, and you feel like you're answering the same questions twice. So, to the extent that you could answer a set of questions once, and that would be available to all the potential funding agencies as needed, um, you've done what you need to do and who's used to doing this kind of reporting, right? Our Title IX coordinators, our CLERY coordinators, our sponsored research folks, typically, uh, the ones I've worked with, I can't speak for all of them, the ones I've worked with, they don't have the information. They're not privy to it, you know, just from a confidentiality perspective. They're not privy to it. Then they have to ask their, you know, they have unclear guidelines about what exactly the scope is. It's not really in their wheelhouse. So, it's, it, it's interesting because they're tasked with off with, you know, compliance and, you know, everything needed to apply for the funding and then to comply. So, you continue to receive it. But then, you know, this is sort of, weird territory for them.
Joe Storch: And so, you know, you make-
Stacie Kroll: I have a quick question, Joe, Andrea, so you mentioned that the sponsored research offices don't necessarily know what to do with this information or how to execute the compliance requirements, which I, I think that's probably, it's pretty fair statement. How do you, you've been doing consulting intently for a number of years. How do you feel the Title IX coordinators understand CHIP'S act? Do you feel that there's still a level of awareness among our Title IX officers? Is that needed in this space?
Joe Storch: So, I'll be honest, there's been almost no coverage of the CHIPS Act. My guess is that this podcast will be the first time most folks are hearing. My hope is that our risk manager and insurance colleagues send this odd to the Title IX coordinator and say, have you heard about this? You know, we put together a, a blog post, you know, laying out the different elements of it. But there's been no real talk about it in the higher ed press, and we're already almost to the first deadline by which OSTP has to do some, some research and, and some determination of other policies that apply. This whole thing is supposed to happen within a year. Now we know that some of these federal deadlines sometimes get missed by agencies and the like, but X is supposed to happen in the first 90 days, the next 90 days, the third 90 days and the like. So ostensibly, um, maybe three quarters of a year from now, if, if all goes according to plan, we should be reporting through a new portal, all of these types of violations. And there has been essentially no coverage. That's why we were so excited to have the, the kind invitations from URMIA to talk about it.
Andrea Stagg: Oh, sorry Stacie. I was just gonna say they need to know that some, that this is happening. Cuz again, you're gonna have you members and schools and you tell, like you say, oh yeah, I get those requests from sponsored research all the time. You know, as whatever Grant, you know, these deadlines come up. They ask me that set of questions, and I know how to respond to it. But for the schools who don't do it often, it doesn't come up often. They don't have a lot of people with that funding or, you know, whatever the reason is. It's just coming up. They, I think, you know, people need the background, like, why are you asking me, why are you asking this? Right? Oh, it's a requirement of this grant that you, you know, answering these questions on some regular basis. Like why it's, you know, I don't think, I don't think our Title IX personnel have the background on it. Even pre-CHIPS. Right? And now post-CHIPS, they don't know what's coming. Which, what's coming is better than what we, I think it's better than what we've had. But if you're not a place that has a lot of grant funding, I don't know how you, I don't know that our Title IX personnel are aware.
Stacie Kroll: That's a great point. It sounds like, um, I'm trying to think about what we can distill from this conversation to the benefit of our membership. It sounds like there's a recommendation coming out of it then correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like there's a recommendation coming out of this, of extending this podcast to your Title IX coordinators and your office and um, kind of let them know that this work is out there. And it also sounds like they have a little bit of a sigh of relief for some administrative efficiency, which we don't see very often in the compliance landscape. So perhaps we can even tie this compliance environment up with the bottle and say, this is actually going to be easier for you to respond to federal requirements. Is that a fair assessment?
Joe Storch: Yeah, I, I think that's exactly right. And, you know, efficiency is better and more efficient. Reporting will get more honest and accurate information to the federal government who provide higher education with billions of dollars in sponsored research every year and understandably have some, you know, want, want some information and questions back, but there are some real significant challenges that will remain with this. So, among those, we might have a definition of harassment, we might have a definition of covered conduct. We might have addition of a definition, excuse me, of covered personnel coming from the CHIPS Act coming from OSTP that differs what we're currently working under in the 2020 Title IX Final Rule, it might differ from what we're gonna be working under in a future Title IX regulations. It might differ from the CLERY Act definitions. It might differ from what our human resources colleagues are used to implementing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in implementing their state law. So, the challenge is that we don't have a single definition coming out of the federal government, right? All those examples I just gave pretty much are from one government, right? And, and so that is going to be a bit of a challenge. And of course, challenges and inconsistencies and definitions, present risks and present things that can fall through the cracks. And then all of a sudden, we're looking at a conversation over pulling federal funds for grants. That's a serious, serious conversation. So, it's something that institutions wanna take seriously, not just because it's the right thing to do, but with some of these inconsistencies and some of the things that the folks from university police or public safety are used to, that the folks from Title IX are used to, that the folks from HR are used to. And then as Andrea points out, the things that the folks from sponsor programs are used to or not aware of it. There's gonna be some risks there.
Stacie Kroll: That's a great point. Perhaps you two have some resources that can help our risk managers try to understand the risk a little bit more for those who wanna know more, but beyond the confines, the type confines of the podcast. So where can we find additional information on the CHIPS and Science Act?
Joe Storch: Well, we will share an article, uh, with you all that that can be shared as part of the podcast where we go through in detail one of the real nice things in addition to the reporting is that the federal government is going to be updating and creating resources to help institutions. So, they're going to be updating on being a scientist, which is a, a landmark publication. They're going to be putting out guidance on what all the different policies are and helping institutions hopefully to comply with them. And what's very, very interesting to those of us, and we know Stacie, it's gonna be interesting to you in your really interesting work that you are doing, is there is a push from the federal government to have OSTP and these agencies encourage or incentivize institutions to do a number of things, right. They wanna incentivize them to conduct climate surveys to understand how much harassment and violence is occurring within the STEM fields or, or overall climate surveys, focus groups, exit interviews when people are leaving, which unbelievably a lot of institutions don't do. When somebody says, I wanna be off this grant, they don't say, why, you know, they don't ask those exit interviews. They can publish the results from their reports. So, everything they report to the federal government, they'll be incentivized to make public. They can regularly assess their policies, assess their interventions, including for the first time really push for prevention, right? And really incentivizing that with funds, the federal government has at least put aside, uh, that they want to appropriate $32 million changes in prevention. And then one of the things that I find most interesting is, um, funding or, uh, uh, push to reconsider the relationship between the faculty advisor and the student in STEM. So, unlike those like Andrea and me who went to law school where you have a relationship with with multiple professors and you apply to the law school, many students who are going into STEM apply to the single professor, and there might only be one or two or three professors in the country who are doing the kind of research they wanna study under. So that leads to a significant power dynamic where if the professor does act inappropriately, does commit harassment or, or assault or anything like that, it's very, very hard for that student who has literally put everything in their basket with this professor to be able to just say, oh yeah, I'll just switch to a professor down the hall. The nearest professor doing this research might be across the country or they might not exist at all. If you cross the professor you're with, they might call those other professors and say, don’t work with so and so. And so, that is a real, real risk. Now, there's many, many positives to that. Congress is saying very clearly that it wants higher education to rethink the appropriateness of that and how we offer protections, and I think what they're saying is if you don't rethink it, we might rethink it for you.
Stacie Kroll: Interesting. Great, great in-sights.
Joe Storch: Andrea, do you wanna talk about some of the provisions of the legislation and what they will do for pushing colleges and universities towards interventions and prevention that works?
Andrea Stagg: Sure. I, I, mean, something, but you already mentioned my favorite part of this all, which is that there's money, right? We're so used to being told, do this, do that. You know, the institution must do this and do this report by this date and file. Make it make, find someone, and designate them to make a log-in for this portal and figure out how to enter in this stuff every, you know, whatever cycle. Um, but they're actually, there's actually funding for this, uh, which I love. So, you know, establishing a center to coordinate and manage this work. That's great. There, there's essential resource. I told the story before, an anecdote is very much true about that I called up an agency and they didn't know the answer to my question that was important to the answer to. So, I could actually do the prompt and the. correct reporting. If there's, if there's, you know, sort of a designated office that's thinking about these things, they're gonna have answers. We're gonna have uniform definitions and expectations. There's gonna be Q and A, there's gonna be guidance, there's gonna be technical assistance available. So, you know, I love that. And then anything that's, anything that has prevention, you know, you and I are like, okay, yes, we need to respond appropriately and promptly to sexual harassment, sex discrimination, sexual violence in a way that stops it and limits its recurrence and remedies the effects, we know that. But how, how about we prevent it from happening in the first place? Like how can we do that and how can we shift people's focus to, to not just putting out fires, but but engaging in practices so that fewer fires happen, right? So yes, we're great at fire detection now, and then we've got sprinklers. So, it's super-fast. Like how do we engage in a risk mitigation to keep, to keep the fires from happening in the first place? So, examining, you know, thinking about evidence-based work there, which is there’s, there's not as much there as we would want, right? Evidence based prevention programs, and by the way, what work, what was evidence based and working for students five years ago, 10 years ago, is not necessarily going to work for students similarly situated students today, because students are changing and are changing constantly. And faculty are changing, right? Our students, our undergraduates, our traditional age, undergraduates from 10 years ago are now new science faculty somewhere, right? With their PhD. So, you know, students are changing. So, right. Having, having evidence-based prevention matters, like you need to keep updating it and keep getting more evidence for those programs and for new programs and to tweak them and to make them relevant, culturally relevant because people keep changing.
Stacie Kroll: So, kind of final question for Joe and Andrea. Can our URMIA members, what can our URMIA colleagues do right now?
Joe Storch: Yeah. So, I think the first thing would be reaching out to Title IX, Human resources, your public safety or university police office and others who do the kind of reporting that will have to be consolidated and coordinated here. Have a conversation with them. Understand what systems they use and what systems they do not use or, or wish to use or, or could consolidate among them, brief them on the fact that this is happening and that when it goes live, we will need to also, for certain folks, make sure that we are reporting that information up to the federal government. So, you wanna make sure your sponsored researcher sponsored programs folks are involved in that conversation and have that conversation over the course of time, read through the legislation. It's only 10 pages. It's fairly accessible. And then as the definitions come out, work to coordinate, because these incidents at most institutions, right, not the places that are doing a billion dollars, half a billion dollars’ worth of research. But at most institutions that are doing hundreds of thousands or maybe millions of dollars of research, they're not gonna come up every day. So, when they do come up, hopefully never or rarely, you need to make sure that you have the processes in place to be able to address them, do the reporting, do all of the things you need to do. And then for our insurance colleagues, remember that many of you are asking for this data from higher education institutions as well. How can you conform your data request, especially in the area of STEM to the requests that are coming from the federal government? We don't know exactly what those are gonna be. But when they are so that we can get apples to apples data, apples to apples comparison, and not having folks creating multiple reports. Cuz again, from a risk perspective, that's when things fall through the cracks.
Stacie Kroll: That's great perspective. Joe. Andrea, thank you so much for being on the URMIA Matters podcast. Um, and thank you for being a valued affiliate member of URMIA. Um, this is another example of our emerging risk project, um, and how by, uh, partnering with our resilient members we're just able to add value to our institutional members. So, thank you for those listeners who are interested in seeing more or finding out more about the emerging risks, uh, information that we've published thus far, that can be found in the URMIA Library. So, thank you again and enjoy the rest of your day.