- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - Montana states colleges are prepared to meet new federal guidelines meant to protect students from sexual assault, officials with the university system said.

A federal report released Tuesday called for campuses to survey students to gauge the extent of the problem, create prevention programs and respond effectively to sexual assault reports.

Federal officials also suggest schools release information on the rate of sexual assaults on campus.

The University of Montana has already implemented many of the recommendations contained in the White House report, school officials said.


The moves by the university were part of a 2013 settlement with the Justice Department after the agency investigated the way the university handled sexual assault reports.

Kevin McRae, spokesman for the state Commissioner of Higher Education, said regents were looking for an alcohol and sexual assault awareness training program that will work for students at all the state campuses. UM created its own training program after the DOJ settlement.

UM also has implemented its own climate survey and is compiling the data, the Missoulian reported.

“We have been proactive in taking concrete steps on this matter, which include developing a tutorial for all students and training for employees,” university spokeswoman Peggy Kuhr said.

UM also hired additional campus police officers, hired an assault prevention coordinator, and revised school policies and procedures to improve the reporting process, Kuhr said.

The 2012 DOJ investigation in Montana led college students to hold statewide summits to discuss ways to prevent sexual assault on campuses, including empowering students to stand up against such behavior.

Matt Caires, dean of students at Montana State University, said the White House report indicates the 2012 DOJ investigation did not uncover an anomaly at UM. The report said one in five women is sexually assaulted in college, often by someone she knows, and that such assaults are often not reported.

“We see all 50 states - nearly every college and university - working to improve their safety and culture of respect” McRae said.