University of Montana (UM) President Royce Engstrom and Vice President for Integrated CommunicationsPeggy Kuhr have both promised to work to address concerns that certain provisions of UM’s resolution agreement with the Departments of Justice and Education violate student and faculty rights. Meanwhile, yet another deadline set forth by the resolution agreement has passed:
By October 15, 2013, the University will provide Title IX training to all resident assistants, members of the SARC, the Curry Student Health Center, OPS, Academic Advisors, and other University employees who are likely to be the first to receive complaints of sex discrimination. The training will be in person and provide attendees with essential guidance and instruction on recognizing and appropriately responding to initial allegations and complaints of sex discrimination including fair and objective communication that does not discourage victims from reporting.
Even if UM conducted this initial training, it is unclear whether the information contained in these initial sessions reflects the legal boundaries between protected speech and unprotected conduct, or whether these staff members will have to be re-trained if UM’s policies are revised. Additionally, in accordance with the resolution agreement, this deadline means that UM should already be compiling its first list of the names of people who failed to attend the required training. If there are staff members covered by this provision who did not attend training, they are probably (and justifiably) eager to know whether their names will be reported to the Department of Justice.
This is not the first time the UM community has been left in the dark with respect to their obligations and rights; UM’s interim sexual harassment policy was posted several days after students arrived on campus at the beginning of this semester.
The resolution agreement’s next major deadline is December 20, when UM must provide Title IX training to all staff and faculty, and it is set to report the names of those absent from training sessions by December 31.
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