Title IX protects students from sexual misconduct

Megan Bennett/ Sun Star

Last year, UA Systems distributed a Title IX survey to a select amount of students as part of a safety investigation held on campus.

The Women's Center staff poses for a picture after a long day of work. - Megan Bennett / Sun Star

The Women’s Center staff poses for a picture after a long day of work. – Megan Bennett / Sun Star

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits gender-based discrimination in academics and athletics programs that receive federal funding. Due to the raise in sexual misconduct cases nationwide, Title IX has put an emphasis on ensuring that students are free of sexual abuse and sex discrimination.

“I do know that as far as health statistics and statistics for domestic violence and assault and all that, Fairbanks is ridiculously high compared to the rest of the country.” Jerzy Ellanna, UAF Women’s Center student assistant said, “For campus safety terms, we are in risky environment.”

For the last 14 years, Alaska has exceed the national average for violent crimes such domestic violence and sexual assault. Within Alaska, Fairbanks has the highest ranking of these offenses. Out of every 100 women, 57 experienced domestic violence, sexual abuse or both, according to the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA).

Though the results of the UA systems survey weren’t broadcasted and no documented statistic of campus safety came from it, UAF administration strives to not allow the Fairbanks statistics to seep into the university.

“There have been pushes to make it a safe campus. Knowing where things are definitely makes it feel safer.” Ellanna said. “I think awareness and knowing how to handle situations helps more than anything else.”

The Title IX division at UAF is in the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity (D&EO), a sector of the university that ensures the compliance of student civil rights and eradication of discrimination on campus.

The Office of D&EO seeks to keep the campus safe by partnering up with on-campus and local law enforcement, and community institutions such as Interior Alaska for Non-Violent Living (IACNL) and ANDVSA to mobilize all available resources for the comfort and safety of students on campus.

“We are going beyond the standard” Ana Richards, Title IX coordinator in (D&EO) said. UAF Title IX division holds training for Faculty and staff members on how to handle sexual misconduct or discrimination, a national Title IX requirement, but also makes it available for the student body to be involved in the cause.

Some other safety pushes that were implemented in the face of the investigations include hosting campaigns and workshops for students and faculty such as the Green Dot bystander training. This training teaches students to be proactive when they see potentially threatening situations and outlines the steps they should take to minimize danger and potentially turn a threatening situation into a safe one. Another step the university took was adjusting the definition of the word “sexual” to be explicit and clear so no misconduct will be tolerated.

These programs teach students how to handle threatening situations and educate students about their rights under Title IX. UAF Title IX division is constantly working to ease the concerns of students and makes it a mission of always expand and improve, said Richards.

Some goals the Title IX division has planned for UAF is to continuously promote awareness campaigns and expand safe places and means for students to report sexual misconduct. The office also aims to ensure that respect is a priority among students.

“We want the students to know, that we cannot do this alone. Everyone needs to be a part of it. We are trying to empower every single person to take care of each other.” Richards said. The D&OE ask all students to take part in the bettering of the safety on campus.

“Our saying here at UAF is ‘see something, say something, do something,'” Mae Marsh, director of D&EO. “We all have a responsibility to create a positive environment.  Training helps shift our culture so we have no more sexual assault”.

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