UAA’s Office of Equity and Compliance is recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the month of April with events planned throughout the month to start conversations about sexual assault.
“We have this month that is a nationally proclaimed month for sexual violence awareness and action,” Bridget Coffou, prevention education coordinator at the Office of Equity and Compliance, said. “It gives us this really great opportunity to focus our efforts on engagement, awareness and education.”
Some of the events throughout the month include Friendly-Feud Sex Edition on April 12 in the Gorsuch Commons at 6 p.m. and several community conversations including #SeawolvesSpeakUp at the Student Union Leadership Lab April 10 at 3 p.m. Coffou said she is excited for the campus wide “Denim Day” event on April 25.
“Denim day is kind of this international day of protest and awareness to just show support that it doesn’t matter what people are wearing, it’s not okay to take advantage of someone,” Coffou said.
The 2017 Annual Security Report & Fire Safety report shows that two students reported being raped at UAA in 2016. The Title IX Scorecard for UAA academic year 2017 shows that seven reports of sexual assault and 27 reports of domestic violence were made to the UAA Office of Equity and Compliance.
Ron Kamahele, the acting deputy Title IX coordinator, said the majority of the work the Office of Equity and Compliance does is to help students access resources.
“We also do what’s called academic accommodations because when someone’s experienced a traumatic situation, it’s very difficult for them to concentrate on their coursework, and so we can intervene with faculty and ask that student be given more time to complete assignments or more time to complete exams,” Kamahele said. “In some cases, we’ve even allowed withdrawals from classes because the student’s just not in the state to complete a class.”
According to a study by the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center on sexual misconduct and sexual assault committed against University of Alaska students, “Between January 2015 and spring semester 2016, an estimated 11.2% — or 1 out of every 9 — UA (statewide) students experienced sexual misconduct, sexual assault or both.”
The study stated that an estimated 10 percent of UAA students had also experienced sexual misconduct or sexual assault in the same time period.
Chief Title IX Officer, Mary Gower, said students have all sorts of reporting options, from emailing or calling their campus Title IX coordinator to walking into the physical office.
“The main thing there is that we still want people comfortable reporting, however it comes in,” Gower said.
Coffou hopes that Sexual Assault Awareness Month can bring awareness to resources for students.
“We can create a lot of opportunities for folks to get involved,” Coffou said. “There’s a lot of hope in awareness and education and hope breeds change. It’s for a campus, for our campus to take part in this, we are saying that we have hope, that we know we can change the climate of our campus and these are the ways we are doing [this].”
Moira Pyhala, political science major, said she came out about her sexual assault almost two years ago and she recommends other sexual assault survivors speak up for change.
“Using your voice to create that systematic change is what we need, and we need more survivors to come forward and be a part of these student groups and student movements,” Pyhala said.
The Residence Hall Association will also be tabling in the Gorsuch Commons April 10-15 from 5-7 p.m. and handing out information about warning signs of sexual assault, intervention and prevention.
Resources For Reporting
Title IX Coordinator
Office of Equity and Compliance
Confidential Reporting: UA Confidential Hotline 855-251-5719
University Police Department (907) 786-1120
Student Health and Counseling Center: 907-786-4040.
UAA Psychological Services , confidential counseling: 907-786-1795.
STAR 27/7 crisis hotline 907-276-7273 or 800-478-8999