Title IX listening sessions set for this week

Sam Allen

Editor-in-Chief

Sun Star

The Office of Civil Rights, which visited campus in October, is giving distance students and other students who couldn’t make last year’s Title IX information sessions an opportunity to listen and speak out about sexual harassment and violence. OCR is setting up four hour-long conference calls between April 15-19. Separate call sessions are organized for male and female students.

Title IX regulation prohibits gender discrimination at institutions that receive federal funding. Earlier this year the UA system underwent a Title IX compliance review along with 63 other higher education institutions.TitleIX_web

In early March, the University of Alaska e-mailed a survey to 15,000 students and staff to assess the climate surrounding sexual misconduct and gauge how well Title IX programs are working.

The survey, initially slated to be released last semester after a visit from federal investigators, received responses from 7.3 percent of people, or just under 1,100 people, according to UA Statewide Voice.

The results of the survey, which will be kept confidential, will help determine where outreach and training programs are lacking and how to increase their effectiveness.

In an effort for anonymity, the university will not retain individual survey responses and will summarize the data, keeping it within the university and sharing it with UA’s Title IX offices. The results will not be categorized by university branch or response groups fewer than 15, as it could disrupt anonymity, however this approach will make it harder to determine how each individual campus could improve.

How to use the data to make campuses safer might be a challenge, but Mae Marsh, UAF Title IX coordinator says they leave room for comments on the survey.

“If we get comments that there’s a lot of complaints around Signer’s Hall, then we’d increase surveillance, increase safety officers on patrol nearby,” she said.

This was the first time the University of Alaska conducted a campus climate survey, which the White House recommended for universities.

The survey is modeled after the one provided by the federal government, but changed to reflect varying definitions and understandings of sexual assault and situations more specific to UA.

“Some questions were too explicit and may stimulate trauma in someone how has been victimized,” Marsh said. She said the questions were changed to make it easier on people who may been traumatized by assault.

The survey was explicit in language and subject, an example of one of the questions is below:

“Since the start of the school year has someone had sexual contact with you when you were unable to provide consent or stop what was happening because you were passed out, drugged, drunk, incapacitated, or asleep?”

More surveys are expected. The first year of the survey will help to generate a base line and it might be several years before there are observable trends. While it has not been decided, Marsh expects there could be surveys similar to this every other year.

“I’m just really excited to be apart of it. Anything to keep people in school so they have happy productive lives,” Marsh said.

In order to participate in the conference call, students need to RSVP directly to OCR staff Amy Klosterman via email at amy.klosterman@ed.gov and provide your full name, gender, course of study, and university e-mail address to register for a session and to receive the call-in information.

Schedule of listening sessions:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. AKT:  Listening session for MALE STUDENTS

Friday, April 17, 2015

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. AKT:  Listening session for FEMALE STUDENTS

Saturday, April 18, 2015

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. AKT:  Listening session for MALE STUDENTS

Saturday, April 18, 2015

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. AKT:  Listening session for FEMALE STUDENTS

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