The University of Montana has set goals and strategies to address reports of sexual misconduct. The University's approach includes the following:
The University is currently implementing several actions and 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.
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 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.
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 will meet clients/assault victims at a private, safe clinic. First STEP will offer 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 24/7 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 or the Dean of Students must be informed about the incident. These campus offices 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. These campus offices will also provide additional information about options for pursuing an investigation and complaint against a student or employee. They will also provide you with information about options for reporting to local law enforcement.
It is extremely important that you get help as soon as possible. There are different options for seeking assistance and they are not mutually exclusive. Also, as time passes, you might find that you change your mind about what you want to do.
Resources providing immediate assistance and obtaining information about your options
Reporting crimes and obtaining information about your options
Reporting student or employee misconduct and obtaining information about your options
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.
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 Student Conduct Code. 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 general sexual misconduct in violation of The University of Montana's Student Conduct Code, a University official designated by the Vice President for Student Affairs investigates the incident. The official conducting the investigation will explain the procedures, and your rights and options. If you are accused of violating Student Conduct Code, 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.
If a complaint of sexual misconduct is made against you under the University's anti-discrimination policy, including the sexual harassment policies, 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. The investigation will be conducted in accordance with the University's discrimination grievance procedure.
In addition, you may wish to use Counseling Services at Curry Health Center, 406-243-4711 (M-F: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.).
If a complaint of sexual misconduct is filed through the Student Conduct Code (i.e. through the Dean of Students), the University has an obligation to review the matter to (a) determine if there is a preponderance of evidence to demonstrate a violation of the Student Conduct Code has occurred, (b) to administer appropriate sanctions, if any violation of the Student Conduct Code 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 and 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 both a campus administrative complaint process as well as a criminal process through the local law enforcement.
"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.