Rates of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska are some of the highest in the country. In order to help raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault, UAA is taking steps to educate students and the larger Anchorage community about how to stop the abuse of others and themselves.
A report compiled by the UAA Dean of Students office documents six incidents in the last fiscal year involving domestic violence, either between roommates in the Residential Halls or between students in a relationship. UAA is in the process of ramping up education about sexual assault. Michael Votava, Assistant Director of Student Conduct, says UAA wants to dedicate more resources toward sexual assault awareness.
“We want to stop those behaviors from occurring. We want to prevent their recurrence. And if there has been someone who has been harmed as a result of sexual harassment or sexual assault, we want to do everything we can to make them whole.”
Votava says UAA recently determined that it has more responsibility to raise awareness about sexual assault, due to the requirements of Title IX. This 1972 educational amendment bans gender discrimination in regard to educational programs and activities. It is more commonly applied to athletics opportunities for students, but a letter issued by the U.S. Department of Education encourages schools and college campuses share a broader interpretation of Title IX.
“Because when you think about it, sexual harassment issues and sexual assault issues happen more often to women than men. Knowing that, by not addressing sexual assault and sexual harassment issues, the University can be perpetuating gender discrimination on college campuses.”
UAA is in the process of hiring two new Title IX [nine] investigators, who will also serve as educational trainers on sexual assault issues.
“That means helping students understand what sexual harassment is, and helping students understand what sexual assault is. To be able to understand what sexual assault and sexual misconduct are, students need to be educated about what consent means. Because I think there are quite a few misconceptions about what it means to have consent, to engage in sexual activity.”
Votava says UAA will be launching a marketing campaign in the Fall encouraging students to report sexual assault and sexual harassment to the Dean of Students office. UAA will also set aside funding to help students recovering from the trauma of sexual assault.
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