UM Blewett School of Law to Host National Symposium on Campus Sexual Assault

September 14, 2016

MISSOULA – The Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana will address one of the nation’s pressing problems when the Montana Law Review hosts the 2016 Browning Symposium on Friday, Sept. 30. The topic for this year’s event is “Sexual Assault: Conflicts Between Campus and Courts.”

Law Dean Paul Kirgis praised the law review, a student-run organization, for addressing the topic.

“This is what great academic institutions and law schools do: take on timely and challenging matters of importance,” he said.

Campus sexual assault remains an issue of national importance. Greater recognition of the scope of the problem has led to heightened media coverage of individual incidents and to academic institutions reformulating their campus sexual assault policies. Debates rage about the appropriate role of universities in sexual assault investigations, the punishment of offenders and how campus sexual assaults should be handled by the criminal justice system. These issues are particularly important for the UM community, with Jon Krakauer’s book “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town” casting a national spotlight on campus.

UM President Royce Engstrom said he welcomes the symposium as an opportunity for the University to show its leadership in responding to this critical issue.

“I am proud of our work to combat sexual assault at UM,” Engstrom said, “but recent news reminds us that these issues persist at colleges and universities across the country. If UM can help lead this important national dialogue, we should and we will.”

Speakers include Montana U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, who will deliver the conference keynote. Also attending will be a slate of national experts including: Deborah Blake, University of Pittsburgh School of Law; Erin Buzuvis, Western New England University School of Law; Kevin Cole, University of San Diego School of Law; Andi Curcio, Georgia State University College of Law; Joanna Grossman, Hofstra Law School; Kari Hong, Boston College Law School; Susan Kruth, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education; Diane Rosenfeld, Harvard Law School; and Nadine Strossen, New York Law School.

Panelists will discuss topics including the interpretation of federal Title IX laws in addressing campus sexual assault, the application of criminal laws to campus sexual assault, and the due process rights of victims and suspects in campus sexual assault investigations.

“The legal issues surrounding campus sexual assault are often very complex,” Dean Kirgis said. “The goal of the Browning Symposium is to present those issues in a balanced and deliberate way through the sharing of ideas and information. Attendees will certainly hear a variety of perspectives and it’s my hope that they will leave this conference inspired to make a difference on this important issue.”

The symposium is open to the general public free of cost. Attorneys interested in continuing legal education credit can register for 6.75 CLE, including one ethics credit, at a rate of $125. Lunch will be provided and the day will conclude with a reception.

The Montana Law Review will publish a symposium edition that will include scholarly works on the topic in the months following.

More information on the event and registration details can be found on the Montana Law Review’s website at http://www.montanalawreview.org.

UM’s Montana Law Review is a student-edited journal comprised of second- and third-year students that was established in 1940, making it one of the oldest law reviews west of the Mississippi. The editorial board, made up of third-year students who have served as staff members during their second year, is primarily responsible for editing, organizing and publishing the review. The Montana Law Review is published bi-annually, with online content published throughout the year.

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Contact: Anthony Johnstone, associate professor and Montana Law Review faculty adviser, 406-243-6711, anthony.johnstone@umontana.edu.