Red Zone: Title IX training involves steps toward making campuses safer for students

More than half of students at the University of Alaska have experienced some form of sexual harassment by fellow UAA students, instructors or staff, according to the results of the 2019 UA Climate Survey as stated on page 1. Title IX training aims to educate students, faculty and staff to bring these numbers down.

Title IX training is part of a federal law enacted in 1972. Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex or gender and sexual harassment, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance,” the U.S. Department of Education website stated.

Title IX training has many different facets, according to the Student Training Resources page, which includes sections such as sexual assault, consent, dating and domestic violence, stalking and bystander intervention.

Training for these situations is based on preventative measures, such as recognizing signs of assault and diversion techniques. Some focused areas of the training are recognizing signs of individuals taking advantage of someone while they are intoxicated and diverting attention from the victim.

UAA Title IX training can be completed in two forms, both online and in person. Online Title IX training is an interactive program offered through Blackboard. It features different modules that include videos and varying scenarios that exemplify sexual misconduct. Participants make choices during these scenarios, helping them become more immersed in the training.

The online Title IX training was revamped this semester in order to be more accessible, applicable and relatable for the UA community. The new training is now presented in one part rather than two, taking approximately 30 minutes to complete. The script is written on screen rather than through video format, and also includes photos and statistics from all three UA campuses.

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There is also the option of completing Title IX training in person. Students can register for UA Safe Training online through a Google Docs form. There is a list of available days to take the training from Oct. 7-28.

If students are not comfortable taking Title IX training, the option to opt-out is available by filling out a UAA Title IX Training Release Request form.

“The University of Alaska recognizes that some who may take this training have experienced violence/victimization. This survey contains language about sexual acts and violence,” as per the UAA Title IX Training Release Form.

Everyone at UAA is required to take the Title IX training in some form, unless a release form is filled out. This includes students, faculty and staff. Failure to complete the training, or to formally decline the training, creates a hold on student accounts, preventing them from registering for classes the following semester.

Though Title IX training is required, it also is valuable, according to Bridget Coffou, the prevention education coordinator for the Office of Equity and Compliance at UAA.

“The Title IX training is important because it gives students the base knowledge of their rights and resources, should they experience sex and/or gender-based discrimination and/or harassment. Additionally, it helps folks think about different ways they could respond, if their friend, roommate [or] classmate has experienced any of these forms of harm,” Coffou said.

Title IX creates awareness of issues that affect students and that may not be talked about often enough. Reports of sexual harassment often increase after a program such as Title IX is administered, according to Leutenint Shane Bozeman of the UAA Police Department.

“The Office of Equity and Compliance noted it has seen an increase in reporting over the last year, which indicates an increasing lack of tolerance for discriminatory behaviors which have gone unreported in the past,” Bozeman said.

Coffou explained this increase in reports may happen in the future as a result of Title IX training.

“The increased number of reports doesn’t necessarily mean there are more incidents of harassment and discrimination, it means people are more aware of what they should be reporting, and there is more trust in the system that these reports will be taken seriously and something will be done,” Coffou said. “If our prevention efforts are working, within the next several years, we would like to see these reporting numbers start to plateau, and then decrease.”

Students are required to take Title IX training in some form by Oct. 31. Students can register and complete the training online by accessing the Equity and Compliance page on the UAA site. Once on the site, the training can be found as a link under “Announcements.” Click on the deadline date and it will lead directly to the online training. For in-person training, students can register online through a Google Docs form.

For additional questions or if a student would like to speak with someone about Title IX, the Office of Equity and Compliance can be contacted by email at [email protected] or by calling (907) 786-0818. Additionally, the Student Health and Counseling Center can also be contacted by email at [email protected] or by calling (907) 786-4040.

More information on Title IX training can be found on the Student Training Resources page on the UAA website.