MU chancellor weighs in on sex assault reporting requirement

Thursday, April 10, 2014 | 1:13 p.m. CDT; updated 6:53 a.m. CDT, Friday, April 11, 2014

COLUMBIA — MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin sent an email to campus faculty and staff Thursday further clarifying UM System President Tim Wolfe’s executive order about employee obligations for reporting sexual harassment and assault. 

"The executive order specifically says that every staff or faculty member who becomes aware of an act of sexual harassment, including but not limited to sexual assault, becomes a 'mandated reporter,'" Loftin said in the email.

Wolfe issued Executive Order 40 on Tuesday, which stated that UM System employees are obligated to report sexual harassment and assault committed against students.

Before the executive order, there was no reporting requirement or mandatory training for MU faculty or staff for handling Title IX incidents, such as sexual harassment or violence, according to previous Missourian reporting.

The mandatory reporters are obligated to report the incident to Noel English, MU’s Title IX coordinator, or Cathy Scroggs, deputy Title IX coordinator,  according to the email, which also provided their contact information. English is also the director of the MU Equity Office.

Loftin said training will be provided to employees most likely to witness or receive reports of sexual harassment and violence. But the email did not specify who those employees would be or how the university will determine who to train.

English referred media questions to the MU News Bureau. Interim MU News Bureau director Christian Basi was unavailable for immediate comment early Thursday afternoon.

According to Loftin’s email, university employees must report to the Title IX coordinators regardless of whether the person making the complaint requests confidentiality.

If the student requests anonymity, Loftin said, the faculty or staff member must be clear with the person that some information will have to be reported to the Title IX coordinator.

"The Title IX coordinator will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the request for confidentiality and will evaluate the complainant’s request in the context of providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students," Loftin said.

Exceptions to this rule are those employees with legal obligations or privilege of confidentiality and may include health care providers, counselors, lawyers and their associated staff.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on college campuses based on a person's sex.

Before Wolfe's order, if a student made a complaint that fell under Title IX, MU faculty and staff were encouraged to report the incident through an online form or to contact English.

UM System spokesman John Fougere said Tuesday that discussion of Wolfe's executive order did not appear to be on the agenda for the UM System Board of Curators, who are meeting Thursday and Friday in Rolla.

However, the Dowd Bennett Law Firm, which was hired to investigate whether MU employees acted consistently with university policy and the law in the Sasha Menu Courey matter, is scheduled to present its findings to the board in a closed session on Friday.

Menu Courey, an MU swimmer, allegedly was assaulted by three football players and told several university employees about it, according to an ESPN investigation. She took her life in June 2011 after leaving MU.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey

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