Voice
Flags in the fall. Photo by Monique Musick

System News September 2017

  • Campus Climate Survey to launch Oct. 10
  • UA Board of Regents addresses UA goals including plans for increasing enrollment; Regents discuss student tuition and receive an update on Strategic Pathways
  • NCHEMS review of Fisher and MacTaggart Reports
  • Nondiscrimination Notice updates
  • UA employees are "responsible employees"
  • President Johnsen's statement on Title IX
  • President Johnsen's statement on DACA

Campus Climate Survey to launch Oct. 10

On Tuesday, October 10, the University of Alaska will initiate a climate survey to measure how often sexual violence or harassment occurs on UA campuses, and how students perceive such violence. It is being administered by Dr. Lindsey Blumenstein with the UAA Justice Center on behalf of the entire UA System. Annual climate surveys are part of the university's Voluntary Resolution Agreement with the Office for Civil Rights.

Undergraduate, degree-seeking students will receive an email invite to complete the survey. The email subject line will be "University of Alaska Campus Climate Survey"​. The survey is voluntary and anonymous. Students that complete the survey will receive an offer for a $10 Amazon gift card. Contact information will not be tied to survey responses.

The survey will help to assess issues, such as a student's knowledge about reporting policies, resources for complainants, attitudes about prevention and intervention, and perceptions on how the university community is addressing sexual violence, providing critical information for improving campus programs, awareness and prevention efforts. Conducted over a period of time, Climate Surveys reveal trends such as decreases in sexual assault, increases in reporting and increases in awareness. They can identify particular campus problems, which gives Title IX offices the ability to tailor prevention efforts.

The goal of the survey is to improve safety on all UA campuses and ensure that sexual harassment and violence incidents are prevented to the greatest extent they can be, and that when incidents do occur, they are dealt with properly.

Because the survey concerns sexual assault, some of the climate survey’s questions are explicit and could potentially trigger a response in a person who has experienced sexual trauma. Each campus has a Title IX Office with support resources, counseling contacts in the community and other tools to assist persons coping with sexual violence. Resources for the whole system are listed at http://alaska.edu/stopthesilence/

President Johnsen's statement on Title IX

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen released the following statement Sept. 22 on Title IX:

“Earlier today the U.S. Department of Education withdrew Title IX guidance in its 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and its 2014 Q&A. In their place the department issued interim guidance for handling complaints of campus sexual assault and harassment. As we evaluate the new guidance and consider its implications, the University of Alaska will continue to abide by our Voluntary Resolution Agreement with the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) as well as policies established by the UA Board of Regents. We will continue to work within those existing frameworks, while considering adjustments to improve overall campus safety and fairness to all involved. We will also participate in the Department’s planned rulemaking process in this critical area.

The University of Alaska is committed to campus safety and has made great strides toward improvements on our campuses through comprehensive training and prevention programs; effective and balanced measures to ensure due process and continued access to education; fair, prompt, thorough and trauma-informed investigations when incidents occur; and, fair and effective sanctions when warranted.

Recognizing that campus safety is always a work in progress, we will maintain our vigilance regarding sexual assault and harassment, even as federal guidance changes.” - President Jim Johnsen

President Johnsen's statement on DACA

University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen released the following statement Sept. 13 on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program:

Yesterday I communicated with our Congressional Delegation and strongly encouraged them to find a fair and expeditious solution to the recent announcement regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program, specifically emphasizing the importance of our students’ continued access to the full-range of educational opportunities provided by the University of Alaska.

While I understand there are substantial unresolved legal and political issues, I remain very concerned about the members of our community who may be impacted. This situation has caused tremendous uncertainty for them, and if not quickly resolved it will be detrimental to their ability to fully realize the academic and employment opportunities the University of Alaska provides.

I encourage all members of our university community—faculty, staff, and students—to show support for these students and to add your voice to mine in encouraging Congress to work towards a quick resolution of this important issue.

Chancellors Gingerich, Caulfield and White join me in this perspective and have reiterated that resources are available on every campus for those who seek additional information, resources or support.

At UAA: A list of resources across UAA campuses is available here.

At UAF: https://www.uaf.edu/oip/

   http://www.uaf.edu/chc/

At UAS: http://www.uas.alaska.edu/juneau/counseling/

   http://www.uas.alaska.edu/dir/jgnelson.html 

Sincerely,

Jim Johnsen

UA Board of Regents addresses UA goals including plans for increasing enrollment; Regents discuss student tuition and receive an update on Strategic Pathways

The University of Alaska Board of Regents took up a wide ranging discussion on the university’s goals to increase enrollment and connect its contributions and students to the future workforce needs of the state during its September 14-15 meeting in Juneau.

UA President Jim Johnsen and Chancellors Sam Gingerich, Dan White and Rick Caulfield presented enrollment strategies for growing the student body at each university toward meeting the goal of 65 percent of Alaska’s workforce earning a higher education certificate, endorsement, or degree by 2025, with an emphasis on providing programs that serve the state more effectively.

In a day-long discussion, regents and the university administration heard a presentation from Dennis Jones, president emeritus, and Aims C. McGuinness Jr., senior associate, with the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems [NCHEMS], on the university’s structure, roles, goals and mission. Topics included strategic choices and FY2019 budget guidance with an overall emphasis on growing the university’s enrollment.  MORE...

NCHEMS review of Fisher and MacTaggart Reports

Dennis Jones and Aims McGuinness with the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) reviewed the often cited MacTaggart/Rogers and Fisher reports to see what recommendations for the UA Statewide administration have been implemented, which are no longer relevant, what could use further improvement and additional recommendations from the system management perspective.

The summary of their observations and recommendations can be found here.

Nondiscrimination Notice updates

On September 19 the university met another reporting obligation for its Voluntary Resolution Agreement with the Office for Civil Rights – updating the new nondiscrimination notice systemwide. UA submitted evidence of hundreds of updates made across the system including websites, handbooks, hiring documents, orientation materials and virtually every publication or flier.

While we made great strides in increasing the visibility and standard use of the nondiscrimination notice, this will be an area for continuous improvement. There are likely still many fliers, brochures, websites and other items that still need updating.

As you navigate through university resources, update publications or see printed pieces that do not have the nondiscrimination notice please take a few moments to add, or ask your colleague to add, the proper notice. The link is www.alaska.edu/nondiscrimination.

UA employees are "responsible employees"

All employees at the University of Alaska (with the exception of licensed therapists and their staff, clergy, and student employees outside of residence life) are designated as “responsible employees” under Title IX, the federal law regulating sexual misconduct at universities.

UA is committed to training all responsible employees on how to recognize and identify sexual discrimination and sexual harassment. The training also informs employees how to file a report, how the university responds to allegations, and provides a list of relevant resources. As part of the university’s Voluntary Resolution Agreement with the Office for Civil Rights, Title IX training is now mandatory on an annual basis.

This a reminder to complete your annual Title IX training and make sure you are aware of your duties as responsible employees. If you’ve completed the 2017-2018 training since July 1, thank you. Training must be completed by Saturday, September 30, 2017. 

Creating a safe and positive workplace and campus environment requires ongoing attention to promoting respect and equity for all. A key part of that effort is using the tools provided by Title IX to stop sexual and gender-based discrimination. We’ve made compliance with Title IX a top priority in recent years, and that work continues.

All of us, as responsible employees, are obliged under the law to contact our local Title IX Office within 24 hours of receiving a report of sex or gender-based discrimination. Employees should be prepared to provide a student, coworker or campus visitor, if it becomes necessary, a compassionate response that includes that you are required to notify the Title IX coordinator, inform them of their option to request confidentiality and guide them to the Title IX coordinator, advocacy services, counseling or other support services. This can be a difficult conversation and the training provided to employees provides a helpful framework and examples of how to approach such interactions.

To access the training: 1. Log in to the UAOnline Employee e-Learning page 2. Select Title IX: Sex and Gender Based Discrimination Prevention for Faculty & Staff

If you do not see "Haven for Faculty and Staff" in your "Current Courses", you will need to click the green "Add Course" tab in the upper right hand corner, and add the module to your "Current Courses" tab. If you have already completed the 2017-2018 training it will show in the Past Courses tab as complete along with any prior years’ training you have already completed.

For more information about your obligations under Title IX as a responsible employee, please visit: http://www.alaska.edu/titleIXcompliance/responsible-employee/ or contact the human resources office.

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