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Missouri University to implement harassment reporting policies

Almost three years after the suicide of a former Missouri University student and alleged sexual assault by one or more of the school's football players, there is still much confusion regarding the university's official policies on sexual harassment and discrimination prohibited by Title IX.

The Office of Civil Rights has developed a policy for universities that applies to all faculty. Under the new policy, there will be required reporters as part of the faculty and staff. Some concern remains over the possibility that students will refrain from discussing the assaults due to the new reporting requirements.

To date, no reporting requirements or mandatory training exist to guide faculty and staff when a student reports incidents of violence or sexual harassment.

If the harassing behaviors and unwelcome sexual advances continue and interfere with education or employment, it becomes illegal and a violation of university sex discrimination policies. Lesser instances may still contribute to destroying the culture of a safe and inclusive work and learning environment.

It shouldn't take a student's suicide to make university officials aware that there are problems of sexual harassment on their campus. The Office of Civil Rights urges universities to take proactive steps to prevent such egregious acts from occurring and to immediately address incidents as they arise.

A 2007 National Institute of Justice report states that one in five women is sexually assaulted during her college years. If you are a victim of sexual harassment or worse on a college campus or in your workplace, you are not powerless. You have legal rights at stake and can take action in the form of filing suit against your harassers.

The advice of a Missouri attorney who practices employment law can be beneficial to those who aren't sure how they want to proceed.

Source: Missourian, "MU employee responsibilities under Title IX remain unclear" Caroline Bauman, Mar. 18, 2014

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