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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Title IX probe at S&T began in May

  • An investigation into how Missouri University of Science and Technology handles reporting of sexual assaults began less than two months ago.
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  • An investigation into how Missouri University of Science and Technology handles reporting of sexual assaults began less than two months ago.
    According to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, the S&T probe began May 21, 2014.
    Missouri S&T became one of more than 60 schools last week across the country added to a list of institutions that the department is investigating for its handling of sexual assaults complaints.
    However, before this investigation began, University of Missouri system President Tim Wolfe said he directed chancellors at all four campuses, including S&T, “to lead comprehensive reviews of the resources, policies and practices on their respective campuses in terms of sexual assault education, prevention and reporting, as well as mental health services.”
    Wolfe also established a task force to evaluate those resources, policies and practices.
    According to S&T Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader, the first step of the three-phase task force involved a detailed inventory of support services and resources for students, faculty and staff who may have been sexually assaulted.
    That list is available in the S&T statement about the Title IX investigation website and was published in the July 4, 2014, edition of the Rolla Daily News.
    Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
    The next two steps, according to Andrew Careaga, director of communications at S&T, are “to determine how effective our processes are for reporting such incidents” and  “whether we have adequate capacity (staffing and funding, etc.) to address mental health issues among our students, faculty and staff.”
    At the board’s June 19 meeting in Columbia, the curators approved several changes recommended by the task force to the UM system’s standard of conduct rules and regulations for students and employees regarding Title IX and sexual assault
    One of the changes includes explicitly including in the written rules that sexual assault investigations can begin immediately rather than waiting for criminal proceedings to finish. That policy was not specifically written in the rules before.
    The board also gave the UM president authority to pass executive orders relating to sexual assault or mental health until the curators' next meeting in October.
    In April, Wolfe issued an executive order that will “supplement the university’s nondiscrimination policies by making it clear that every university employee (unless expressly excluded by this policy) has an obligation to report sexual harassment (including sexual violence) perpetrated against students to the appropriate Title IX Coordinator,” according to a news release from the UM system.
    “The purpose of today’s executive order is to clarify the obligation of employees to report information about sexual harassment and sexual assault when perpetrated on a student, how to report and to whom, how a report will be processed and how requests for confidentiality will be handled,” the news release stated.
    Page 2 of 2 - Campus survey
    Almost two years before this investigation began, a survey was conducted at S&T that asked faculty, staff and students how they felt about the climate of the campus.
    In November 2012, Sue Rankin of Rankin and Associates, the consulting firm that conducted the climate survey and analysis for the campus, released its findings during a public forum.
    The survey, which was broad in nature, according to Andrew Careaga, S&T director of communications, looked at many different issues, but among them were some findings regarding sexual assault or harassment.
    For example, 14 percent of the respondents (365 people) reported they had experienced “exclusionary, intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct” at Missouri S&T during the past year.
    The findings also showed that there was a greater percentage of women (18 percent) who reported that they had experienced harassment than did men (11 percent).
    “It's important to note that ‘harassment’ doesn't necessarily mean sexual harassment,” Careaga told the Daily News.
    The survey was conducted in April 2012, and the 2,717 respondents represent 32 percent of the campus community.
    The climate survey was sponsored by the Chancellor’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion-II

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