COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – The University of Missouri is considering changes to its employee policy for reporting suspected sexual violence amid the fallout from the suicide of a former swimmer.
The parents of Sasha Menu Courey have said their daughter killed herself 16 months after an alleged off-campus rape by as many as three football players in February 2010. School officials have said they didn’t learn about the attack until after Menu Courey’s death but have hired an outside law firm to review the university’s response. No charges were ever filed.
The university has no reporting requirement and offers no training for faculty or staff on how to handle possible violations of Title IX, a federal anti-discrimination law covering sexual harassment or violence, the Columbia Missourian (bit.ly/1nGfVBW) reported. The federal education department recommended such a requirement nearly three years ago.
“There needs to be clear guidelines for what we as faculty do when this happens,” said Joan Hermsen, chairwoman of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.
Noel English, the campus Title IX coordinator, said the Columbia campus is finalizing a policy that mandates certain “required reporters” inform the university of student complaints. Reporting requirements also are under review at the system’s campuses in Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis.
“We are doing our best to come up with a policy that fulfills the institution’s obligations under Title IX while not deterring individuals from seeking assistance from those they trust,” she said. “We are concerned about the possibility that students will feel less inclined to seek help because of the reporting requirement.”
The University of Louisville is among the schools that have implemented a required reporting mandate for possible Title IX violations. Any employee in a supervisory or management role and any faculty member supervising programs that include direct contact with students outside of the classroom are covered by the policy, said Mary Elizabeth Miles, Louisville’s associate Title IX administrator.
“This is such a complicated and gray area, but we tried to make our policy as clear to our faculty, staff and students as possible,” Miles said. “Our mandatory reporters tell the student upfront that they will have to make a report, but that doesn’t mean the student has to be a part of an investigation or loses control of the situation.”
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