The safety and security of students on our four campuses is an absolute priority for the University of Missouri System, and we take the issues of sexual assault and mental illness very seriously. My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and teammates of Sasha Menu Courey.
In light of the ESPN "Outside The Lines" report that questioned the response of our Columbia campus to an alleged sexual assault of a former MU student athlete who also suffered from severe mental illness, I want to address the questions raised with all of you and ask for your immediate assistance and support.
I am asking the board of curators to hire outside independent counsel to conduct an investigation of MU’s handling of matters related to Ms. Courey. Such an independent review will be beneficial to all our campuses so that we can determine if there were any shortcomings with respect to MU’s handling of this matter and, if so, ways in which to improve the handling of such matters in the future.
At the same time, I am directing each of you to lead a comprehensive review of your campuses' respective policies, training and procedures concerning the prevention and reporting of sexual assaults and the availability of mental health services. We must ensure that each of our campuses has the necessary resources to educate the campus community about sexual assault and prevention, as well as an effective process for reporting such incidents, plus adequate capacity to address mental health issues among our students, faculty and staff. Once we have done a complete examination of our policies and procedures on our campuses and identified any areas of need, I am pledging to make available any additional resources, including funding from the UM System budget, to our campuses to ensure that we are addressing this issue in the appropriate manner. As leaders of our campuses, I am asking you to also volunteer new ideas and new investments that are necessary to ensure the safety of our students.
As chancellors for our state's land-grant public institution, you represent the leadership of higher education in the state of Missouri. It is imperative that we set an example in making sure our campuses take an active role in addressing sexual assault and mental illness and prompting a campus culture of respect.
Timothy M. Wolfe