Title IX Compliance

Comment period open on proposed Federal Title IX guidelines

The U.S. Department of Education's (USDOE) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking  (NPRM) on Title IX was published in the Federal Register on Thursday, November 29. The USDOE's 60-day comment period will extend until Monday January 28, 2019.

The proposed rules are being evaluated by the university’s legal team and Title IX experts, who will recommend comments to UA leadership. Given the need for coordination, time is short.  If you have input that you would like UA leadership to consider in formulating UA's comments to USDOE, that input should be provided via this FORM as soon as possible, and in any event no later than December 31, 2018.

Final rules, including any changes, will not be in place for some time. In the interim, UA will continue to abide by our Voluntary Resolution Agreement with OCR, and we will continue our work to build a safe and respectful culture within our campus community.

If you are interested in reading more about the proposed changes, you can visit the links below.

One-page summary
https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/proposed-title-ix-regulation-fact-sheet.pdf

Section-by-section summary
https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/background-summary-proposed-ttle-ix-regulation.pdf

Full rules
https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/title-ix-nprm.pdf

RECENT NEWS:

Draft policy encourages reporting/guides handling of misconduct complaints

Sept. 26, 2018 - A draft policy encouraging reporting of misconduct and providing guidelines for how the university will respond to delayed misconduct complaints was introduced at the September meeting of the Board of Regents and will be considered by the Board at its November meeting.

The proposed policy encourages prompt reporting because of the problems that can be created by delay. But the policy also makes clear that complaints will be assessed and ongoing impacts will be addressed regardless of when alleged misconduct occurred.

The policy would also establish a three-year window for individuals to bring complaints forward. During that period, standard processes would be followed to determine whether to formally investigate. Complaints received outside the three-year window would not normally be investigated. However, UA would assess and address any ongoing impacts. In addition, investigation of older complaints could go forward if a specific finding is made that doing so is in the best interests of the university community. Considerations would include the ability to provide due process, any ongoing impacts on the safety and inclusivity of the university environment, as well as impacts on university operations.

The policy does not modify employee reporting and response obligations or the university's ability to pursue investigations and remedies independent of complaints.

University administration believes this approach provides for appropriate responses to all types of misconduct complaints, focuses intensive efforts on issues that are more likely to have ongoing impact and which can more likely be remedied, and ensures that investigative processes can be fundamentally fair. Though not limited to Title IX complaints, this approach is consistent with President Johnsen’s discussions with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) regarding UA’s response to Title IX complaints.

A first reading of the policy occurred during the September Board of Regents meeting. The proposed policy is currently under review by UA governance groups and university leadership. Formal approval of the policy will be considered at the November meeting. Feedback can be provided via representative governance groups, via the policy feedback form or during Board of Regents public testimony. To participate in public testimony, call 1-866-726-0757 between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday Oct. 29.

Why are we creating this policy?

Prompt reporting of complaints is critical for a variety of reasons including the availability of evidence, witnesses, and the ability to provide due process to all parties. At the same time, the university needs to know about past instances of misconduct that may have ongoing impacts on individuals or on the campus community. This policy would provide a framework for addressing these difficult issues.

Why was three years chosen as the window for routine processing?

Because UA is an educational institution and employer, not an adjudicative agency, there are many reasons to focus on misconduct that impacts current campus environment. Any delay in bringing a complaint forward creates a risk that evidence will be lost and that the university will be unable to adequately investigate, maintain jurisdiction over parties, or prevent or fix ongoing issues. We believe that three years appropriately balances those concerns with sometimes compelling reasons for delay in reporting, particularly in light of the flexibility in the policy. For context, agencies whose sole mission is to investigate civil rights claims limit complaint filing to 180-300 days; court actions for personal injury must be brought in two years and for breach of contract in three years.

What if my complaint concerns something that happened more than three years ago?

UA would assess and address any ongoing impacts, regardless of when the alleged misconduct occurred. In addition, the policy would provide the flexibility to investigate older complaints if doing so would be in the best interests of the university community.

Considerations would include the ability to provide due process, any ongoing impacts on the safety and inclusivity of the university environment, as well as impacts on university operations. Finally, UA could pursue remedies independent of an individual’s complaint.

Climate Survey Results

The results of the University of Alaska’s 2017 Campus Climate Survey are now available for review REPORT LINK. Readers are forewarned that questions and definitions are explicit, and could be upsetting to some. It is normal to experience strong emotions and reactions to the content of this survey, especially for those who have experienced, or been affected by, attempted or completed sexual and/or partner violence. Please know that if you want to report a specific concern to campus authorities, reach out to a counselor or other professional for confidential help; and/or may have general questions or concerns to bring up on these topics a wide variety of resources are available for these purposes. A complete list of contacts and resources can be found here: www.alaska.edu/stopthesilence

The report provides current prevalence estimates projecting the number of university students that experienced sexual misconduct, dating violence, stalking/harassment or sexual assault.  Additionally, whether and to whom the incidences were reported, the likelihood of students to engage in protective behaviors and interventions in the future, and students’ assessments of the university’s campus climate.  The report establishes baseline data for future study.

The survey was conducted by the UAA Justice Center in October 2017. It was emailed to 10,000 degree-seeking undergraduate students. Of those, 710 students self-selected to participate. The survey is part of the university’s Voluntary Resolution Agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and will be conducted each academic year.

The university has taken significant steps toward addressing sexual assault and misconduct on its campuses, and has been public about past failings. This survey affirms the progress made to create a safer campus environment while underscoring that more needs to be done to improve our culture and meet our standards for recognizing and addressing sex discrimination and sexual misconduct. This ongoing work will involve each university and community campus using the climate survey’s findings to inform decisions and take further action. 

Nondiscrimination Notice updates

On September 19 the university met another reporting obligation for its Voluntary Resolution Agreement with the Office for Civil Rights – the propagation of 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.

 

Feb. 22, 2017 – A letter summarizing the OCR findings can be downloaded HERE.

Feb. 20, 2017 - The University of Alaska has entered into a Voluntary Resolution Agreement with the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. INFORMATION

President Johnsen's Message to the UA Community on Voluntary Resolution Agreement PDF

Read the Voluntary Resolution Agreement HERE.

RESOURCES & INFORMATION

Nondiscrimination

The University of Alaska is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educational institution.  The University of Alaska does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, citizenship, age, sex, physical or mental disability, status as a protected veteran, marital status, changes in marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, parenthood, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation or belief, genetic information, or other legally protected status. The University's commitment to non-discrimination, including against sex discrimination, applies to students, employees, and applicants for admission and employment.  Contact information, applicable laws, and complaint procedures are included on UA's statement of non-discrimination available at www.alaska.edu/nondiscrimination

Know Your Nine: Here's a great, brief video on nine things you need to know about Title IX (in only 89 seconds): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFAs9fegJsI

Duty to Report

For the university to respond effectively and to proactively stop instances of gender-based and sexual misconduct, all employees must report information about alleged or possible sexual misconduct to the campus Title IX office.

For more information on being a responsible employee visit: www.alaska.edu/titleIXcompliance/responsible-employee/

Title IX Compliance

When incidents of sex based harassment or violence are reported, the university will take immediate action to stop the harassment, remedy the victim, conduct prompt and thorough investigations and prevent recurrence. This process will typically be completed in 60-business days. If there is a parallel criminal investigation or if the Title IX investigation occurs partially during school breaks, investigations may be paused and take longer. Title IX will maintain regular contact with law enforcement to determine when it may begin or resume its investigation. Title IX will not delay its investigation until the ultimate outcome of the criminal investigation. Full details are contained in BOR Policy and University Regulation and can be accessed at:
Chapter 01.04. Sexual and Gender-Based Discrimination

Laws and Guidance:

Office of Civil Rights "Dear College Letter April 4, 2011" PDF
Office of Civil Rights "Q & A on Title IX" PDF
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; 20 U.S.C., sections 1681-1688
34 C.F.R. Part 106
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2013
Not Alone Report

Office of Civil Rights Review:

Feb. 20, 2017 - The University of Alaska has entered into a Voluntary Resolution Agreement with the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. INFORMATION

The UA System was one of hundreds of universities selected for a compliance review.
OCR review of UA -  INFORMATION

Chief Title IX Officer
Mary Gower
msgower@alaska.edu
(907) 450-8145

As Chief Title IX Officer, Mary Gower has primary responsibility for coordinating the university's efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in all operations of the university, as well as retaliation for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX. The Chief Title IX Officer will assist the University of Alaska in achieving its goals of providing an open, diverse and inclusive learning and working environment by leading the university's response and compliance efforts related to Title IX.

Contact University of Alaska Title IX Offices to make a report or find Title IX information
Additional resources on reporting options can be found at www.alaska.edu/stopthesilence  

Anchorage - Office of Equity and Compliance
Title IX Coordinator
 Sara Childress
sgchildress@alaska.edu
(907) 786-6086

Fairbanks - Diversity and Equal Opportunity
Title IX Coordinator
Margo Griffith
(907) 474-7599
margo.griffith@alaska.edu

Juneau - Title IX
Title IX Coordinator

Lori Klein
(907) 796-6036
laklein@alaska.edu

 

Sexual Harassment is Discrimination

The University of Alaska is committed to providing a safe and respectful campus environment free from gender-based violence and sexual harassment (including harassment based on an actual or perceived sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression).

Examples of sexual harassment include:

  • Repeated requests for dates that are turned down, or unwanted flirting
  • Making sexual comments about appearance, clothing or body parts
  • Emails or pictures of a sexual or other harassment-related nature
  • Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures or posters
  • Telling lewd jokes or sharing sexual anecdotes
  • Unwanted jokes, gestures, offensive words on clothing, unwelcome comments

When there's a report of sexual discrimination or misconduct the university will:

  • Stop the discrimination
  • Provide remedies and other support
  • Prevent the recurrence of further discrimination

To submit a report of gender-based or sexual misconduct, contact your Title IX coordinator.

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