With U.S. Approval, Montana Sets Sex Assault Policy
- Student activists spur sexual assault complaints, but some say Education Department is overstepping its bounds
- Essay criticizes Education Dept. approach to sexual harassment
- Amid rape investigations, University of Montana requires all students to take tutorial before enrolling
- Montana adjusts to life as a 'blueprint' for sexual assault response
- OCR official explains harassment policies to skeptical college lawyers
The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights have approved the University of Montana's new sexual assault policy, cementing a resolution agreement that the federal government said would make Montana's procedures a "blueprint" for colleges nationwide. While some student activists and victims' rights advocates have lauded the terms of the settlement, which is more extensive than previous federal mandates, free speech organizations have expressed concern that Montana's policy is overbroad and violates the First Amendment. Whereas Montana's previous policy required an action to be "objectively offensive" to be considered harassment, OCR said "sexual harassment should be more broadly defined as 'any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,' " including "verbal conduct."
The new policy also requires all faculty to participate in a tutorial on sexual assault and campus regulations, and states that those who refuse will be reported to the Justice Department. Some faculty members have questioned Montana President Royce Engstrom about the provision, The Missoulian reported.