Sex Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Violence (Title IX)
Sex discrimination is prohibited by law in all educational programs and activities. Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments applies to all students and employees at the University and prohibits unequal treatment based on sex as well as sexual harassment and sexual violence.
Title IX (Education) versus Title VII (Employment)
The substantive law (definitions and rights) prohibiting sex discrimination is consistent whether dealing with students or employees of the university. However, the employment laws do not require the extensive notice that is presented here. Therefore, this notice has been geared to the needs of students. Note that employees who take classes would be covered by Title IX when they believe alleged discrimination interfered with their educational rights. Conversely, if discrimination is alleged to affect student workers in the context of their employment, then Title VII and MU’s human resource policies would be the better resources. Both students and employees should feel free to contact the Title IX Coordinator for assistance in determining the appropriate avenue for pursuing their complaints.
- Sex discrimination occurs when a person has been treated unequally based on her/his sex. Specifically, Title IX prohibits the exclusion of persons from participation in, or denial of, the benefits of any University program or activity because of their sex. Examples include:
There is a specific application of Title IX to Athletics, ensuring that women and men have equitable access to opportunities in sports.
- being refused an assistantship because you are a woman, or
- being denied admission to a University event because you are a man
- Sexual harassment is a subset of sex discrimination and is therefore prohibited. Sexual harassment involves any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. The unwelcome conduct may involve direct action (advances, promises, etc.) by a person in authority, or sex-related behavior which creates a hostile environment, whether by one in power or by others. Sexual harassment may occur regardless of the sex or the sexual orientation of the parties. Examples include:
See also the following sexual harassment policies:
- Suggestive or insulting sounds or obscene gestures
- Off-color jokes
- A professor asking for sex in return for good grades
- Other physical, verbal, graphic or written conduct of a sexual nature
- Sexual violence is a subset of sexual harassment and is thus also prohibited as a kind of sex discrimination. Sexual violence involves any physical sexual act which is perpetrated against a person’s will or done without valid consent (such as when the person is intoxicated). The primary motivation for sexual violence is not sexual gratification but rather the assertion of power; this inevitably leads to a hostile environment for the victim. Examples include:
- Groping of another person’s genitals
- Sexual assault
- Stalking, and
- Other non-consensual sex acts
If you believe you have been discriminated against, what are your rights?
You have the right to be emotionally and physically safe.
- After an assault or other acts of violence, the following steps are recommended (but not required by the University):
- Experiencing any kind of discrimination or sexual harassment can create stress, anxiety, or even seemingly unrelated reactions (like over-eating or not sleeping). Therefore, it’s important that you take care of yourself—including getting enough rest, counseling, and other support. See the list of resources at the bottom of this page.
- The University may take interim and/or permanent steps to remove you from dangerous or discriminatory situations. For example:
- You or another student may be moved to another residence hall room
- You or another student may have your class schedule modified, or receive other appropriate academic accommodation
- The alleged perpetrator may be prohibited from having any contact with you pending the results of the university’s investigation.
You have the right to privacy.
- In all instances and to the extent possible, the University will make every effort to protect the privacy of all parties involved, including the person bringing the complaint, witnesses, and the accused person. If it is deemed necessary to investigate, parties may be identified but only to the extent necessary to resolve the complaint.
- Under federal law, campus officials (with the exception of persons in their capacity as licensed counselors, lawyers, physicians, or certified mediators) who receive a report of sexual violence, whether from the student involved or a third party, must share that information with the appropriate University authorities for investigation and follow-up.
- The University cannot guarantee confidentiality but will try to respect the wishes of the complaining party. You may request that your name and identifiable information not be released to the alleged perpetrator, but such a request could limit the University’s ability to effectively respond to your complaint.
- You may request confidentiality or that the complaint not be pursued. In certain circumstances, such as where there have been other complaints concerning the same person, the university may be bound to proceed regardless of your expressed preference. Even in cases where you choose not to cooperate in disciplinary action, the university is required to take such steps as it can to prevent recurrences.
You have the right to a prompt, fair, and impartial resolution of your claim.
- Once the University has notice of possible discrimination, including sexual harassment or sexual violence, the University has a legal responsibility to promptly respond in ways that protect the victim, end the discriminatory conduct, and prevent it from recurring.
- When the alleged perpetrator is a student, the investigation will be handled by the Office of Student Conduct.
- When the alleged perpetrator is an employee, the investigation will be handled by the Title IX Coordinator or designee.
- The appropriate standard for deciding claims of discrimination is by the preponderance of the evidence—that is, simply whether it is more likely or not that the conduct took place as charged.
- You do not have to choose between a criminal process and a University discrimination process for your complaint. In some cases, the same conduct may constitute both sexual harassment under Title IX and criminal activity. In addition to using the University’s procedures, you have a right to file a criminal complaint with law enforcement. The University may have an independent obligation to investigate the conduct as sex discrimination and, if potential criminal conduct is involved, may also determine to notify law enforcement.
- The criminal court process and the internal University discrimination process address different aspects of the same conduct and can take place at the same time using different standards of proof. The University will not wait for the conclusion of a criminal investigation or court proceeding to begin our discrimination procedures; we aim to resolve complaints promptly and equitably and will take immediate steps to protect you in the educational setting as needed.
- Every case is unique. Your Title IX Coordinator can help you determine how best to proceed with a resolution of your complaint.
- It is your right to end an informal process at any time and begin the formal procedures.
- In cases involving allegations of sexual violence, mediation will not be used to resolve the complaint.
- Policies and procedures available if you believe that you have experienced discrimination:
You have the right to be free of retaliation when you pursue a discrimination claim.
- Regardless of whether your original claim is upheld, retaliation is a separate violation under law and policy. If you are singled out or experience negative consequences because you told University officials about sexual violence or other suspected discrimination or because you assisted in the investigation process, the University will take action to prevent you from being punished as a result of your cooperation. Contact your Title IX Coordinator for assistance.
- Policies and procedures available if you believe that you have experienced retaliation:
- At times, students may be hesitant to report the occurrence of sexual violence to University officials because they are concerned that they themselves, or witnesses to the misconduct, may be charged with other policy violations such as alcohol or controlled substance violations. These behaviors are not condoned by the University, but the importance of dealing with alleged sexual misconduct or sexual violence outweighs the University’s interest in addressing secondary violations.
Who do I contact for help?
The Title IX Coordinator has been designated to coordinate the University’s compliance with laws governing sex discrimination in education. If you have any questions about sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence, you may contact:
Interim Title IX Coordinator
321 Townsend Hall, Suite Office I
Noel Ann English, J.D.
Director of MU Equity/Title IX Deputy Coordinator
Memorial Union S303
Columbia, MO 65211
For Title IX complaints regarding gender equity in MU athletics:
Sarah Reesman, J.D., Title IX Deputy Coordinator
Executive Associate Athletic Director
Department of Intercollegiate Athletics
1 Champions Drive, Suite 200
Columbia, MO 65211
For Title IX complaints regarding Sexual Assault:
Cathy Scroggs, Title IX Deputy Coordinator
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Department of Student Affairs
S1 Memorial Union
University of Missouri
If you want to file a complaint regarding sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence, or you have questions or concerns about Title IX compliance you may contact the Title IX Coordinator. If she is not the best person to assist you, she will refer you to other resources.
Filing informal and formal complaints
For complaints against students
Assistant Director, Student Life
Office of Student Conduct
G206 MU Student Center
For all other complaints, including complaints against faculty and staff
Noel Ann English, J.D.
Director of MU Equity
S303 Memorial Union
*For electronic (anonymous or reporter-identified) reports of discrimination, please complete the online bias incident report form here.
Office for Civil Rights
If you do not wish to contact one of the above University Title IX Coordinators or other designated University resources (see below) with your questions or concerns regarding sex discrimination at the University, you may contact the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) with the U.S. Department of Education.
Missouri’s regional OCR office is located in Kansas City and is available to provide assistance:
U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
One Petticoat Lane
1010 Walnut St., Suite 320
Kansas City, MO 64106
In addition to the Title IX Coordinators, above, there are many other resources at the University who may be of assistance depending on your circumstances. If you have any question about which of these resources may be best to consult, your Title IX Coordinator can help you figure out how to proceed.
This list below is not exhaustive. There are many concerned individuals at MU, including faculty, residence hall personnel, academic advisors and others, whom you may prefer to contact. However, please note: these individuals are usually required to act on your concerns or to pass the complaints on to persons, like those listed, with the responsibility for investigating and correcting discrimination. Discussions with such trusted individuals about incidents of discrimination will not be considered confidential. Only physicians, lawyers, licensed counselors, and certified mediators are entitled to maintain your confidentiality without a corresponding duty to report to designated university officials.
Helpful contacts for students:
Criminal complaints and personal safety issues
Health and well-being issues
*Note: physicians and mental health counselors can provide you with confidential advice.
Community assistance for sexual violence