UAF makes efforts to combat failures in sexual assault cases

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It’s been more than four months since the University of Alaska Fairbanks announced it failed to follow its own procedures in disciplining students accused of sexual assault. At the time an independent review of the UA system was ordered. UAF said it now has transparent procedures and software in place to prevent similar lapses, but the review is delayed.

(Creative Commons photo by Jimmy Emerson)
(Creative Commons photo by Jimmy Emerson)

Last week UAF student and sexual assault survivor Amy Cross testified before University Board of Regents. She applauded UAF’s efforts to be more responsive to assault victims and raise awareness about campus sexual assaults. But she said more could be done, even in times of financial hardships.

“As you consider the budget, I ask that you remember that Title IX is not just a trending topic,” Cross said. “Sexual harassment, assault and stalking are serious problems that will not be resolved unless we can change our rape supportive culture.”

UAF Vice Chancellor Mike Sfraga said the school has a new tracking software installed that flags any reports of Title IX violations. And all procedures have been reviewed and toughened.

“The bottom line is we have this triangle of checks and balances,” said Sfraga. “It ensures that practices and policies and procedures are being followed the way the Board of Regents mandates us to, the way the law mandates us to. It’s just completely tracked.”

Sfraga says based on the review, administrators decided to reverse an earlier decision to hire a temporary outside professional for the critical Dean of Students position and have hired internally. Laura McCollough, former Director of Residence Life has been tapped for the post.

Meanwhile, an independent review of UAF’s lapses has seen delays. Roberta Graham, spokesperson for the University Statewide System said she hopes an executive summary will now be available at the end of March.