Letters from the Editor: Future imperfect

Be it the Title IX office, the UAF Police or the office of the Chancellor, you can count on one behavior from the leadership of our campus—a steadfast commitment to covering one’s own ass. This was the case a year ago when the grand failure of UAF’s Title IX program was revealed; unfortunately, it seems to be the university’s modus operandi today as well.

Can someone stop the time warp? Because the future seems an awful lot like the past. I feel like I could have written this a year ago—in fact, I’m pretty sure my predecessor wrote something along these same lines.

Without knowing much more than surface details, there appears to be a lot of blame to go around in the Wattum case. If the event played out exactly as we’ve heard, the alleged assailant naturally takes the lion’s share of the blame. The district attorney follows suit; for reasons unknown, they ignored the recommendation of our campus police and decided not to press charges in the incident. And the Title IX office’s response can be described as feckless and evasive, which would be pretty on-message for official responses considering our overall track record.

Our reports are by no means complete, as our reporters have received stoicism or silence while attempting to acquire documents through official channels. The new campus police chief seems to have a chip on his shoulder when it comes to the press, as even the most routine follow-up on less contentious incidents is met with resistance and exasperation on his part. Other contacts have shunted us to university spokeswoman Marmian Grimes, who has been as helpful as she can considering that every other official on campus seems to be deflecting to her. And you can always count on the odd resignation that coincides just a little too conveniently with such disputes.

There’s a bitter but important realization to be had from all this. Individual people, be they professors, officials or officers, tend to be likable and competent. But though UAF is made up of many of these likable, competent individuals, they serve as the cogs and gears of a machine made of rules and compliant people. Bureaucracies are not inherently good or bad, but they can be counted upon to act in their own self-interest and defense to the exception of other impulses. In our case, that means the interests of students all-too-frequently go out the window.

As a journalist, I can’t simply take the accuser’s version of events at face value; indeed, I can’t fairly call her anything aside “the accuser” without lending bias to the proceedings. What I need are facts, evidence and official reports rather than the “he-said she-said” that abounds; you, the reading public, deserve nothing less. If officials are less than forthcoming in providing this information to the press and the public, then we must use every means at our disposal to bring that data to light.

We don’t yet have everything we need, but that doesn’t leave us empty handed. We have the cooperation of the victim. We have the identity of the accused. We have devoted reporters and editors. Most importantly, we have something that the administration clearly does not: a commitment to the students on this campus. Rest assured, readers, that we will only consider this incident resolved once we’re satisfied that it has been reported fairly, thoroughly and without bias to either party.

Until that satisfaction comes, we here at the Sun Star will continue our tenacious pursuit of the truth.

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3 Responses

  1. db cooper says:

    Ask how many perpetrators who have been trespassed from select University buildings are still allowed to be on campus?

    There are other cases of title IX violations that are being mishandled by the dean of students.

    Ask how many times the title IX office says reported incidents are not title IX violations-when they clearly are.

    They might keep a list of the countless cases they simply ignore to keep their work load and reporting numbers down.

    Ask why UAA has an resident hall alcohol policy designed to protect students safety, to limit the use of alcohol as a weapon to perpetuate sexual assaults, where UAF has refused to make changes to its alcohol policies, though they readily admit alcohol is used as a weapon on campus. Ask why the Regents refuses to take action on this issue.

    Ask why Mike Sfraga is quitting.

    Ask why we can afford to fund intercollegiate athletics, but can not afford to properly fund our title IX office. Clearly we can afford to do both.

    Ask why there has been no action by the administration to respond to students fears while they ironically fight against giving students the right to bear arms on campus.

  2. db cooper says:

    Ask is it safe to live in the dorms?

    Would our administrators encourage their daughters live in the dorms?

    Encourage their daughters to Accept a drink in the dorms?

  1. November 1, 2016

    […] title IX cases had me “mad online” for lack of a better term when I penned my editorial last week. But as our coverage of this issue continues — you’ll find a story about the […]

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