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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Misconduct

What does the University do in response to reports of sexual misconduct?

The University of Montana has set goals and strategies to address reports of sexual misconduct. The University's approach includes the following:

  • Eliminate Sexual Misconduct - We work to ensure a campus culture that is intolerant of sexual misconduct.
  • Care for Survivors - We strive to care for survivors and preserve their opportunities to receive an education at UM.
  • Rid Campus of Known Assaulters - Statistics show that a majority of sexual assaults are committed by a minority of predators. We take decisive actions to rid campus of known assaulters.

The University has implemented several actions and is planning additional actions to achieve these goals. Examples of actions include requiring students to take an online tutorial about this topic, collaborating with the City of Missoula on prevention and response efforts, and providing enhanced education to all UM employees about this topic and requiring them to report all known instances of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator.

What should I do if someone tells me they are a victim of sexual misconduct or sexual assault?

Offer support

If someone comes to you for help, recognize that he or she might be struggling with painful feelings—anger, fear, denial, or embarrassment. Provide support and give assurance that campus resources are available to help. Offer to assist in accessing University resources.

Maintain confidentiality

Maintain an appropriate level of discretion in all of your interactions with others. Campus employees may not guarantee complete confidentiality, because they are obligated by University policy and federal law to report information about sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator. However, communications about a student with persons other than University officials authorized to receive such information, including family members or friends, cannot occur without prior written permission of the student.

Inform the victim of available resources and reporting options

The Student Advocacy Resource Center (SARC) provides free and confidential peer counseling and crisis intervention to student survivors of sexual and relationship violence as well as support and information for their family and friends. Services are available to survivors at all stages of recovery, from initial crisis-intervention to healing, through support groups and peer counseling. SARC is dedicated to working to remove barriers that keep individuals from seeking services and informing survivors of all of their options while supporting them to make whatever decisions are right for the individual.

The First STEP Resource Center at Providence St. Patrick Hospital offers specially trained nurses or nurse practitioners who meet clients/assault victims at a private, safe clinic. First STEP offers a comprehensive medical assessment, evidence collection, lab tests and medication as needed, and education/information. First STEP provides on-site access to community advocates and law enforcement as requested. DNA evidence may be collected up to five (5) days after a sexual assault but is most likely to yield positive results the sooner it is collected. Evidence can be stored for up to a year while a survivor decides whether to pursue criminal charges.

City and county law enforcement officers as well as UM Office of Public Safety officers are available 24 hours a day to respond to emergency and nonemergency calls about sexual assaults. In cases of sexual assault, officers can explain the options for medical exams, counseling, advocacy, and reporting assaults as crimes; officers will ask if the survivors want advocates present to help them understand the proceedings. These departments are responsible for all criminal investigations and can answer questions about the legal process.

In order for the University to appropriately respond to instances of sexual misconduct involving students, the Title IX Coordinator must be informed about the incident. The Title IX Coordinator will help with interim measures to ensure that a survivor is safe on campus and obtains any assistance needed to ensure continued productive access to educational programs. The Title IX Coordinator will also provide additional information about options for pursuing a University investigation against a student or employee, as well as options for reporting to local law enforcement.

What should I do if I am a victim of sexual assault?

There are different options for seeking assistance and they are not mutually exclusive. As time passes, you might find that you change your mind about what you want to do.

  1. Get help

    Get to a safe place. If you need emergency medical care, go to a hospital emergency room. If you need medical assistance, go to Curry Health Center (406-243-4330) on campus or call First STEP Resource Center at (406) 329-5776. UM’s Student Advocacy Resource Center (SARC) help line is available 24 hours a day at (406) 243-6559, as is the YWCA Pathways crisis line at (406) 542-1944 or (800) 483-7858.

  2. Report to police

    Call 9-1-1 or Public Safety (emergency line 406-243-4000). Calling law enforcement does not obligate you to file a police report, although you may do so if you decide to. The police can provide immediate response for your protection, help you obtain medical care, and arrange a meeting for you with victim advocate services.

  3. Report to campus authorities

    Contact the Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (406-243-5710). To ensure your safety on campus, the University can rearrange class schedules, enforce no-contact orders, and/or pursue Title IX investigation proceedings. Even if you choose not to report an assault to law enforcement, you have the right to continue to pursue your education in an environment free from the effects of sexual violence, including any ongoing harassment.

    You may also tell a trusted faculty or staff member, who will work with the Title IX Coordinator to provide you with support and resources. All University employees, including student employees, are required to report information they receive about allegations of sex-based discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct involving students to the Title IX Coordinator within 24 hours of receiving the information.

    Reporting to campus authorities is not the same as reporting to the police; the university process is an administrative proceding, not a criminal proceding.

  4. Find support

    SARC and Counseling Services provide on-campus support for victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Call (406) 243-6559 to schedule an appointment. YWCA Pathways can provide shelter and long-term support services for victims. The Crime Victim Advocate Office (406-830-3830 or 866-921-6995) provides free and confidential assistance to help you understand your options, even if you've chosen not to report to law enforcement. For academic assistance, contact the Dean of Students (406-243-6413).

Additional Resources

You may also confide in a trusted University employee such as a faculty member, advisor, or residence hall assistant. Campus employees will do their best to support you. If you prefer, you may ask a campus employee to contact one of the above resources on your behalf to obtain additional information about your options.

What should I do if I am a victim of sexual harassment or stalking?

If someone has harassed or stalked you or made unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or threats for failure to engage in sexual relations, contact the Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (406-243-5710). The University will take appropriate measures to stop sexual harassment, including disciplinary action against the offender.

To ensure your safety on campus, the University can rearrange class schedules, enforce no-contact orders, or pursue Student Conduct Code proceedings. Contact the Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (406-243-5710) or the Dean of Students (406-243-6413). SARC and Counseling Services provide on-campus support for victims of sexual harassment. Call 406-243-6559 to schedule an appointment.

What should I do if I am accused of committing sexual misconduct?

Sexual assault and some other forms of sexual misconduct can be both a criminal offense as well as a violation of the University of Montana's Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Stalking, and Retaliation policy. A student or employee alleged to have engaged in a sexual assault can be prosecuted under Montana criminal statutes and/or disciplined under the Student Conduct Code or applicable employment procedures. Criminal procedings and University proceedings are separate processes with independent outcomes. A student or employee found responsible for committing a sexual assault is subject to dismissal from the University. An individual found guilty of sexual assault under the criminal justice system is subject to a prison sentence.

If you have been accused of or charged with the crime of sexual assault, seek advice and assistance from a competent legal representative. ASUM Legal Services represents students charged with misdemeanors. This includes some types of sexual assaults. ASUM Legal Services does not represent students charged with felonies. If Legal Services determines that they cannot represent you, they will refer you to the public defender's office or to a private attorney. If you wish to use ASUM Legal Services, you must first schedule an intake appointment by calling (406) 243-6213.

When it appears that a student may have committed an act of sexual misconduct in violation of University policy, the Title IX Coordinator or a designee investigates the incident in accordance with the University's discrimination grievance procedure. You will be notified of the accusations against you and provided with the opportunity to respond. The official conducting the investigation will explain the procedures, and your rights and options. If you are accused of violating University policy, you may seek legal representation. ASUM Legal Services does not represent students charged with Student Conduct Code violations. However, upon request a representative from Legal Services will meet with you briefly to describe the University's procedure for handling allegations of such violations. In a serious situation, Legal Services may refer you to private counsel.

In addition, you may wish to use Counseling Services at Curry Health Center, (406) 243-4711 (M-F: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.).

What is the difference between a University process and a criminal process for adjudicating sexual misconduct violations?

If a complaint of sexual misconduct is filed with the Title IX Coordinator, the University has an obligation to review the matter to (a) determine if there is a preponderance of evidence to demonstrate a violation of policy has occurred, (b) to administer appropriate sanctions, if any violation of policy has occurred, and (c) to ensure that the campus community can continue to work and learn in an environment free from any form of harassment, intimidation, or violence. This is an administrative procedure, not a criminal procedure.

If a victim chooses to file a complaint through the Missoula Police Department, Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, or the UM Office of Public Safety, the process is governed by the Montana Criminal Justice Act. The standard of evidence necessary to move a case forward in prosecution is "beyond a reasonable doubt." This is a criminal procedure.

A victim can pursue either a campus administrative complaint process or a criminal process through the local law enforcement, or both.

What does the term Sexual Misconduct mean?

"Sexual misconduct" is a non-legal term encompassing a variety of different behaviors ranging from the most severe (violent assault) to harassment, and including exploitation. Using this term serves to differentiate campus processes, which are administrative and educational, from the criminal justice system, in which people are charged with crimes that carry criminal penalties.

You can find definitions for other terms on the Definitions page.

Can the University discipline a student for sexual misconduct even if the student is not convicted in a court of law?

Yes, the University may discipline students pursuant to the Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Stalking, and Retaliation policy. The University disciplinary process is unrelated to any criminal procedure. An important difference to keep in mind is that the standard of proof in a criminal proceeding is "beyond a reasonable doubt," whereas the standard for sexual misconduct in a University proceeding is "preponderance of the evidence."

Why should I report a sexual assault?

According to two recent studies, 3 to 6 percent of college-aged men admit to having completed or attempted a sexual assault. Of that 3 to 6 percent, 67 percent have completed or attempted multiple sexual assaults. The average number of victims varied by study from 6.2 to 14. If you have been assaulted by someone, it is statistically likely that the same perpetrator has assaulted or will assault another person.