Missoula Rises, a community group affiliated with the Montana Human Rights Network, requested action during a panel discussion Monday about sexism and sexual assault with community and University of Montana leaders.

Erin Erickson, Missoula Rises founder and panel moderator, made direct asks of Gov. Steve Bullock, of eGriz.com, and of community members.

At the panel discussion prompted by the controversial rehire of Bobby Hauck as head football coach of the Montana Grizzlies and a petition against bringing him back to UM, Erickson said Missoula Rises will be asking Bullock to appoint a Montana Board of Regents member with expertise in behavioral health in order to build on progress the flagship is making in addressing sexual assault.

She also asked eGriz.com's Chris Lynn to require people making online comments on the fan site to use their real names in order to promote more civil discourse. And she encouraged fans to help change the culture by speaking up on the forum when others crossed the line with damaging words including ones that contribute to rape culture.

"You have a responsibility to step in as a bystander and say, 'This is not OK,'" Erickson said.

Following reports from panelists Drew Colling, director of UM Student Advocacy Resource Center, and Athletic Director Kent Haslam on the work taking place on campus to prevent sexual assault and violence, Erickson also asked audience members to share the information with others in the community.

"We need to look at ourselves as a community. What role do we play?" said Erickson, noting the problems of sexism are rooted in society, not limited to campus.

At the Wilma Theater, the panel opened with Griz fan Lisa Davey sharing the reason she had authored a petition against the rehire of Hauck late last year. She grew up in Missoula watching the Griz, and she said 12 arrests took place during Hauck's earlier tenure, including ones that involved violent acts against women.

"I think there's a really clear body of evidence that the team was not well controlled last time Bobby was here," Davey said.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice investigated the campus for allegations it was failing to properly investigate sexual assault, and around the same time, the NCAA launched its own inquiry. Subsequently, investigative author Jon Krakuer wrote a book about the problem of campus rape and set it in Missoula and UM.

Although the federal probe took place after Hauck had left, Davey believes his attitude contributed to the culture that brought on the investigations. She also said his behavior to student journalists who asked about a sexual assault allegation did not set a good example, and his poor treatment of the reporters, which made national news, could have dissuaded a young college student who had been assaulted from reporting after seeing the authority figure's behavior.

Davey was threatened online after launching the petition, and she made a request herself at the forum. After reading some of the sexist and homophobic comments posted on eGriz.com about her, Davey asked UM to do more to regulate anything using the "Griz" name. UM does not own eGriz.com.

At the forum, UM's Haslam, Hauck, Colling and President Seth Bodnar spoke about the work the campus has done and continues to do to address sexism and sexual assault.

Everyone has advice for an athletic director hiring a coach, Haslam said, and he quickly learned there was no middle ground when it came to bringing back Hauck. But he and Hauck had candid discussions about dealing with the media and developing leaders, and he feels like Hauck represents "a great step forward" for UM.

"I really felt like we got an older and more mature — sorry to say that, Coach Hauck — head coach," Haslam said.

In his own comments, Hauck said coaches fulfill many roles for students, including disciplinarian, confidante, father figure, depending on their needs. And he wants them to be successful in the game but also in life. 

"I want to develop men of character, people who are great husbands, fathers, great in the community," Hauck said.

Bodnar, who took the helm at UM last month, said the point of athletics is not to win games, but to enhance the development of students who participate in the sports. He said athletics are about building character traits and teamwork.

"When you focus on that, wins follow," Bodnar said.

Colling noted the types of outreach and training her office is conducting in bystander intervention and sexual assault prevention, and she said one coordinator has trained, 3040 students since June 1. She said the work is taking place on campus and in the community.

At the same time, Haslam said the work is never done. At times, he hears himself say something he believes he's said 100 times earlier, but he said he reminds himself that an incoming 18-year-old might not have heard the lesson before, such as how to deal with celebrity status in the community, so he makes sure he's emphatic.

"It's constantly top of mind. It is something that you think about all the time," Haslam said.

Although Davey said she was concerned about some of Hauck's responses on the panel, such as his lack of specificity about his own particular course of action to ensure better behavior among college athletes, she acknowledged UM has made many improvements.

"I really recognize everything you're doing," Davey said to Colling and other athletics leaders.

Hauck sat next to Davey but did not make eye contact with her when she spoke to him. In response to a moderator, he said he was accustomed to "people taking their shots" because it goes with the job, but he also said he was pleased to participate on the panel.

"I appreciate being here to be part of constructive dialogue," Hauck said.

Load comments