Alicia Arant and Equal Opportunity/Title IX

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Alicia Arant and Equal Opportunity/Title IX

As UM’s Title IX coordinator and director of equal opportunity, Alicia Arant contributes to a safe campus as an enforcer of a bundle of state and federal civil rights laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Montana Human Rights Act.

Those laws form the basis of UM’s Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Stalking, and Retaliation Policy, which applies to everyone, from students and employees to affiliates and visitors. 

Arant addresses sex discrimination and holds perpetrators of sexual crimes accountable through a formal investigation process or an informal resolution involving training, mediation and accommodations. A Title IX investigation only results in University action, not legal consequences.

Arant says she ultimately works to ensure the dignity of people on campus. 

“I have learned that a person’s sense of safety is inextricably tied to their sense of dignity, and no employee can bring their best self to work when their sense of dignity is challenged by discrimination or harassment,” she says.

Arant says that sex discrimination can include everything from disparate treatment to pay inequality to sexual assault to implicit bias.

“To me, regardless of context, a person who feels safe feels empowered to say ‘no’ – whether in a bedroom or a boardroom – because she will be heard, understood and respected,” Arant says. “A safe work environment is one in which employees feel empowered to be creative, disagree, ask questions and raise concerns without fear of embarrassment or retaliation. People in ‘unsafe’ work environments are not empowered to exercise their full professional potential.”

To help employees on campus feel safer at work, Arant works with many others across campus in advocating for and supporting best practices through:  

  • Diversity training, particularly for all personnel charged with hiring and promotion;
  • Established meeting norms that encourage everyone to participate, such as setting an agenda which calls on everyone to contribute, emphasizing an anti-interruption rule prior to each meeting, and giving credit to idea originators;
  • An understanding of employment policies with a traditionally gendered effect, such as parental leave, caregiver leave, sick leave and flexible scheduling;
  • A clear avenue for receiving and addressing workplace complaints;
  • Reviews of role descriptions for factual accuracy and organizational consistency; and

Regular performance reviews which emphasize open, two-way communication.