COLUMBIA — An audit has recommended big and small changes that would adjust how the University of Missouri System handles sex discrimination, diversity complaints and equity on its campuses.

Potential revisions to the UM System's Collected Rules and Regulations would update language and add best practices for diversity, equity and inclusion to the system's policies.

Proposed revisions include:

  • Implementing a system-wide preferred name policy, which identifies circumstances in which students can use a preferred name instead of a legal name. MU extended its preferred name policy last month.
  • Considering contributions to equity, inclusion and diversity as a factor in promotion and tenure decisions. Schools such as Pomona College in California and Oregon State University have adopted policies that encourage faculty and staff to consider diversity issues in their teaching and research.
  • Expanding definitions of sexual misconduct and consent.
  • Expanding the definiton of people protected from sex discrimination to include pregnant women.
  • Clarifying equity resolution processes for resolving complaints of discrimination, harassment or sexual misconduct
  • Adding an additional process to address institutional complaints of discrimination or harassment. Complaints can already be made against students, staff or faculty, but this process would allow for complaints made against an entire campus or department.

Many of these changes reflect best practices of universities across the country. Allowing preferred names, accommodating pregnant students and considering contributions to diversity are all trends in higher education.

Continuing race-related protests have drawn attention to the system's need to update its rules, and a report released in 2015 about a Title IX investigation at MU also drew attention to the need to reorganize the process of investigating sex discrimination. In December, MU centralized reports and investigations of discrimination in the new Office of Civil Rights & Title IX.

Proposed revisions are being looked at by the Intercampus Faculty Council — which includes representatives from MU, University of Missouri-St. Louis, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Missouri University of Science and Technology — and will be sent to each campus in the system for comment.

The review is part of the system's $1.1 million diversity audit, which was launched in May to create focus groups, conduct interviews and review diversity policies.

The audit is on schedule and is expected to wrap up at the end of the year.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

  • Education reporter for The Missourian. Native of Oklahoma City, Missouri School of Journalism '17. Reach me at ruthserven (at) gmail (dot) com for questions, concerns or comments.

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