On Monday evening, the activist group Missoula Rises presented a forum called ‘Tackling Sexism’ which featured several UM officials including football coach Bobby Hauck, UM President Seth Bodnar and Athletic Director Kent Haslam.

Sports fan site contributor and local realtor Brint Wahlberg was scheduled to be a part of the forum, but illness prevented him from participating. Wahlberg said the group selected him because of his connection both to fan sites and Missoula Rises.

Concern was expressed at the forum towards the harsh criticism leveled at Lisa Davey, a member of the panel and author of an online petition asking to keep Bobby Hauck from being hired.

Wahlberg said fan sites are primarily for fun and camaraderie, but in this case turned vicious.

“Sometimes they can take an ugly turn, and that was a big part of the forum itself, when a certain Griz fan who didn’t agree with the petition she put together, and instead of respectfully disagreeing this individual went the other way,” he said. “He posted all kinds of personal information and made bullying, sexist and violent threats on another fan site and through Twitter.”

Missoula Rises founder Erin Erickson made a call during the forum for all fan sites to require those who submit posts use their real names.

Wahlberg said there is little chance that website managers will agree.

“I can’t imagine that the ability to not post anonymously is going to go away,” he said, but something else did happen during the forum, a realization that the university had come farther in dealing with sexual assault than the group had realized. “Erin Erickson made a comment that the details, information and answers that Kent Haslam, Bobby Hauck and Seth Bodnar were providing were answering more questions than they had originally prepared for, and the amount of work the university has done was more than they originally anticipated.”

Wahlberg said he disagreed with Davey’s petition, but because of the forum, both sides came away with a better understanding, and there are hopes for better things to come.

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