by Bob Kellogg
The Obama administration helped draft – and has approved – a Montana university’s vague and dangerous sexual harassment policy that threatens the First Amendment rights of students and faculty.
The new sexual harassment policy empowers the University of Montana to “take appropriate action” against a student or faculty member “to prevent the creation of a hostile environment,” even after a university investigation has failed to find the student or faculty member responsible for “discrimination or harassment that creates a hostile environment.”
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says that means even if UM believes a student or faculty member’s expression is protected by law, it may still prevent that person from speaking.
Both the Department of Justice and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights took part in drafting UM’s new policy. Robert Shibley, FIRE’s executive vice president, says the feds want to take part in enforcing it as well.Shibley
“They are asking for the names of any professors or any other faculty members who refuse to attend training seminars on the new policy, which is in and of itself pretty worrisome,” he tells OneNewsNow.
Evidently there is concern among the faculty about that request. The Missoulian newspaper reported last month that faculty members have voiced concern over the “little-known segment” of the school’s agreement with the DOJ to provide the names of those who sidestep the training.
In addition, the Civil Rights Office is looking at a much broader scope than just the University of Montana, says the FIRE spokesman.
“The feds originally said that they wanted this to be a ‘blueprint’ for other schools across the country,” states Shiblen, “and that’s extremely worrisome, particularly that it doesn’t obey the Constitution and also requires the University of Montana to send the names of people who disagree to the Department of Justice.”
FIRE reports that UM developed the new policy as part of an agreement that concluded a year-long federal investigation of the university’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations.