Number of Title IX reports in the UA system increases

The number of Title IX reports have increased across the UA system compared to last year’s data. At UAA, the numbers from last year tripled, Chief Title IX Officer Mary Gower reported at the most recent Board of Regents Meeting on Nov. 8.

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Photo credit: Jian Bautista

“I’m confident that it’s not because there are three times the number of incidents. It’s just that there is increased reporting,” UAA Title IX Coordinator Sara Childress said.

Childress said she hopes that this trend is the “beginning of a shift in [campus] culture.”

She believes the Office of Equity and Compliance has been more present on campus.

“We’ve also been a lot more visible this semester than last year… and also tried to provide a lot more in person contact this semester,” Childress said.

At UAS, the number of Title IX reports doubled. Lori Klein, UAS Title IX coordinator, sees the reason behind this trend as a combination of factors.

“As a campus, the university has collectively built their awareness and their knowledge of these issues. People feel more comfortable coming forward when they are facing those issues,” Klein said.

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Margo McGriffith, Title IX coordinator at UAF, received a total of 218 reports between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018. This marked a “significant increase” compared to the year before that, McGriffith said.

She emphasized that the Office of Equity and Compliance also receives a number of reports relating to other kinds of discrimination.

“Not all of them end up falling under Title IX,” McGriffith said.

Most of the reports were third party reports. Childress said that this could be tied to the bystander intervention trainings provided by peer educators on campus.

“I think there’s a stronger understanding of being a responsible employee,” Childress said.

She views the increase in reports as a positive trend.

“I think that it can be a misconception to think that it’s a negative thing, to think that we have an increase of terrible events happening, because I don’t believe that this is the case,” Childress said.

She thinks that the trend of the increase in Title IX reports is likely to continue in future semesters.

“The increase of reports – I hope – continues, because that means an increase in trust in the process, and an increase in trust that they will be served with the resources that they need,” she added.

Childress also highlights that a report does not always entail an investigation.

“It just means that people are reaching out for help – and that’s absolutely what we want,” Childress said.

Efforts regarding a systemwide faculty Title IX regulation and policy committee are underway. The UA Faculty Alliance asked the three faculty senates to recruit candidates willing to serve on this committee.

At the board’s meeting, it was also announced that an Alaska-specific version of the Title IX training is underway. The development of this training is a joint effort of the eLearning center and the Offices of Equity and Compliance in the UA system.

It is supposed to recognize the high rates of sexual assault in the state and be more “culturally reflective” of the people UAA is serving, Childress said.

“We also have the opportunity to showcase our students and hear their voices and perspectives through this training [compared to] the off-the-shelf product that we have been using,” Klein said.

The new online training will not be implemented until next year.

“We’re still in the preliminary stages,” McGriffith said. “We’re working hard on that. Hopefully that training will be much louder to our demographic compared to the trainings in the past.”