University of Montana News

Sep 27, 2012 6:58 PM by Irina Cates - KPAX News

New UM slot in response to sexual assault investigations

MISSOULA- A University of Montana police officer is working on building trust not only on the UM campus, but in the Missoula community as well.

UM and the Missoula community received unwanted national attention in the last year with the numerous sexual assault allegations, which resulted in two federal investigations.

UM created Community Relations Officer Casey Gunter's position in response, and now he's working on getting to know students.

"President (Royce) Engstrom, he opened up this position just for the officer to be around to build communications, build relationships with the students, work with residence life, do educational pieces," said Gunter.

"With the particular campus climate that we have right now, it's kind of nice to have an officer that's really approachable and available. It brings a level of safety to the buildings and to the campus at large," UM student and Jesse Hall resident assistant Eliza Allison said.

Whatever the topic, Gunter wants to make sure students know he's there to listen.

"I've had students come and talk to me about some personal things going on in their lives, potentially serious decisions that they have to make," Gunter said.

Earlier in the season Gunter spoke to the Griz football team about sexual assaults. When he was done, he challenged the team to help him spread his message and protect women.

"When I said if you're with me, stand up. And every one of those football players stood up, I was pretty overwhelmed with emotion, it was pretty awesome," Gunter said.

If a staff member or a student feels unsafe or runs into a problem on campus, Gunter hopes to be the first person they come to for help.

Gunter can be reached by calling the UM Public Safety Office at (406) 243.6131, by e-mail, or you can swing by his office is in Jesse Hall on the University of Montana campus.

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