- Associated Press - Sunday, February 9, 2014

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - Montana State University is considering expanding its sexual-misconduct guidelines to include dating violence, domestic violence and stalking.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/1kl785R) that the University Council in Bozeman on Wednesday proposed the change.

Title IX coordinators on MSU campuses in Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls and Havre would be in charge of the investigations involving students or employees. Title IX forbids discriminating against people in education on the basis of sex.

The University Council is scheduled to vote on the policy March 5.

MSU President Waded Cruzado said that over the next month the proposed policy change should be explained to faculty, deans, employee groups and student senators. Afterward, public comments can be submitted.

MSU attorney Pam Merrell said she has worked for five months to update the school’s sexual discrimination policies following a letter from the U.S. Department of Education to college campuses around the country. The letter warned that colleges weren’t doing enough to protect female students from sexual assaults, harassment or other actions preventing women from getting an education.

MSU officials say they revised the school’s policies after the University of Montana reached an agreement last year with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education over the school’s mishandling of rape cases.

Officials said they are now updating policies again to meet the new Violence Against Women Act passed by Congress. That includes dating violence, domestic violence and stalking as elements of sexual discrimination.

“We think it’s a good product,” Merrell said.

Under the new policy, MSU’s Title IX coordinator, Diane Letendre, would investigate possible violations.

“This is going to bring our policies up to national best practices,” said Matt Caires, dean of students. “It makes it so it’s a one-stop shop.”

The policy also sets rules for investigations and appeals.

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Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com

Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.

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