It’s On Us Mizzou responds to proposed legislation changing Title IX on Missouri college campuses

According to the statement by It’s On Us Mizzou, the proposed legislation would be harmful to survivors of sexual assault.
It’s On Us Mizzou released a statement opposing the new Title IX changes. Courtesy of Twitter via @ItsOnUsMU

It’s On Us Mizzou released a statement on Jan. 30 opposing Missouri Senate Bill 259 and House Bill 573, which seek to create new provisions relating to the rights of the accused in Title IX cases.

It’s On Us Mizzou is a branch of the national organization that works to end and raise awareness for sexual violence on college campuses, according to Kelli Wilson, director of It’s On Us Mizzou. Right now they are focused on the proposed bills.

In the statement, It’s On Us said the proposed legislation would be harmful to survivors of sexual assault by retraumatizing survivors and discouraging them to seek protections.

“I think that if people do go ahead and report, it’s going to be handled in kind of a chaotic manner,” Wilson said. “Because we don't currently get the funding for this to run smoothly with the way that the bill is written.”

In regards to how these bills will affect MU, Liz McCune, associate director of the MU News Bureau, said the university does not discuss pending legislation and is still gathering information.

The bills, sponsored by Rep. Dean Dohrman, R-La Monte, and Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, proposed cross-examination between the accused and the survivor.

“Typically what is the norm is that survivors can ask questions and have them read by the hearing pool and vice versa,” Wilson said. “They're not speaking directly to each other. That is a current accommodation that Mizzou has within the Title IX process so that you're not talking directly to someone who has committed violence against you.”

Senate Bill 259 requires the names of any witnesses to be disclosed to both parties, while both bills seek to provide due process to accused students and guidance to the Title IX Offices.

“With the language of the bill, there are shorter timelines to look at formal complaints,” Wilson said. “If the bill does pass they’re not going to be able to meet those timelines. The bill also insinuates that the schools would be penalized for that.”

The house bill requires schools to expedite the hearing process if the investigation and resolution interfere with their education. The house bill would allow students disciplined in a past or present Title IX case to appeal to the Administrative Hearing Commission, according to the house bill summary.

The house bill would also allow the accused student to take civil action against the university. The school could be investigated and fined by the state attorney general if proposed guidelines are not followed.

Wilson said she plans to meet with Andy Hayes, assistant vice chancellor for Civil Rights and Title IX, later this week.

It’s On Us will be gaining student input, and hopes to hear students voice opinions against the bills, Wilson said.

Edited by Ethan Brown | ebrown@themaneater.com

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