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SHORT TAKES


October 1, 2013

The Feds Crack Down on the University of Montana

Here's another Orwellian intervention at a U.S. university by the Federal Government: in response to feminist pressure about the handling (under Title IX and Title IV) of sexual harassment and sexual assault cases on campus, the University of Montana agreed to accept a resolution agreement with the Department of Justice and the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights. The agreement commits the university to "train" its students and employees, including teachers and administrators, on how to avoid sex-based violations. In addition, the university is committed to hire a bureaucrat to oversee the program on campus. (It already has a full-time Title IX appointee and now must add another bureaucrat known as an "Equity Consultant" acceptable to the OCR.) Also the university must provide the feds with the names of those who have undergone the mandatory training and as well as those who have failed or declined to undergo it.

In addition, in the style of speech codes, definitions of offenses in the agreement are broad enough to cover even innocent actions and the university has the power to "take appropriate actions" against a student or any employee "to prevent the creation of a hostile environment" even after a university investigation has failed to find anyone guilty of an offense. This week faculty members complained to University President Royce Engstrom about the program. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education calls the program "burdensome, confusing and intrusive." Greg Lukianoff, president of FIRE calls it "an unconstitutional speech code" and gives the university "vast discretion to silence students and faculty members." 

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