In February 2015 University of Alaska employees received letters designating them as responsible employees under Title IX. Since that time the designation as a responsible employee and Title IX awareness training has been incorporated into hiring and onboarding processes across the system. Annual reminders will be sent out by the chancellors and/or president..
The university is dedicated to campus safety and compliance with federal laws regarding sexual discrimination and misconduct. The university is obligated to respond to any notice that sexual misconduct may have occurred whether the notice is given through a filed grievance; a report by the victim or other person knowledgeable of the incident made to faculty, staff, administration, law enforcement or other employee; or by a member of the university community who witnesses sexual misconduct. A school’s failure to take prompt and effective corrective action in such cases would violate Title IX.
A school must inform all employees of their reporting responsibilities and the importance of informing complainants of: the reporting obligations of responsible employees; complainants’ option to request confidentiality and any available confidential advocacy, counseling, or other support services; and complainants’ right to file a Title IX complaint with the school and to simultaneously report a crime to campus or local law enforcement.
University employees have always had the responsibility to report sexual misconduct under Title IX, but until 2015 the university had not explicitly taken steps to inform them of their duty. The university is legally and ethically obligated to ensure that employees understand what that designation means and provide them with the resources to carry out their duty should it become necessary.
Who is a responsible employee?
According to 2001 Guidance from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) a responsible employee includes any employee: who has the authority to take action to redress sexual misconduct; who has been given the duty of reporting incidents of sexual violence or any other misconduct by students to the Title IX coordinator or other appropriate school designee; or whom a student could reasonably believe has this authority or duty. At the University of Alaska that includes all staff, all faculty and Residence Life student employees except those confidential or student employees described below.
Who is not a responsible employee?
OCR does not require campus mental-health counselors, pastoral counselors, social workers, psychologists or other person with a professional license requiring confidentiality who are working within that license to report incidents of sexual misconduct to the school in a way that identifies the student without the student’s consent. The counselor-client relationship is respected, and confidentiality ensured, so that students will seek the help they need.
Student employees, with the exception of those working in Residence Life, are not designated responsible employees at the University of Alaska. However, all members of the university community are encouraged to report any suspected instances of sexual misconduct.
What does it mean to be a responsible employee?
A responsible employee MUST report all relevant details of sexual misconduct to the Title IX coordinator or other school designee within 24 hours. This is because a school is obligated to address sexual misconduct about which a responsible employee knew or should have known. The school has this obligation whether the student, student’s parent or a third party decided to file a formal complaint. The university must also provide the victim interim services which may include counseling, medical care, class schedule changes and housing options as necessary to allow the complainant to continue their education without interacting with the accused.
What does policy say about responsible employees?
What information is a responsible employee obligated to report?
Subject to the exemption for counseling or clerical employees discussed above, a responsible employee must report to the school’s Title IX coordinator, or other appropriate school designee, all relevant details about the alleged sexual misconduct that the student or another person has shared, and that the school will need to determine what occurred and to resolve the situation. This includes the names of the alleged perpetrator (if known), the student who experienced the alleged sexual misconduct, other students involved in the alleged sexual misconduct, as well as relevant facts, including the date, time, and location. A school must make clear to its responsible employees to whom they should report an incident of alleged sexual misconduct.
Consistent reporting of sexual misconduct to the Title IX coordinator is necessary because it allows the university to offer interim services such as counseling, medical care, class schedule changes, and housing options. It also allows for tracking predatory behavior, understanding risky areas of campus, preventing future misconduct and ensuring the safety of our students.
To ensure compliance with these reporting obligations, it is important for a school to train its responsible employees annually on Title IX and the school’s sexual misconduct policies and procedures. If you have not taken the required Title IX training you can attend an online session through Haven accessible through UAOnline.
Letter to Statewide employees from President Johnsen PDF