Wednesday, June 18, 2014

University of Alaska Anchorage Offers Title IX Training To All Employees

Recently I posted that the University of Alaska system was one of 60 colleges and universities around the country on a list for investigation of violations of Title IX.

Recently UAA chancellor Tom Case sent out emails to all faculty and staff asking them to participate in a Title IX training session.  His goal is 100% participation.

Training was scheduled to begin this week in Anchorage while most faculty are off contract and probably off campus if not out of state.  A large percentage of the UAA faculty are adjunct faculty, meaning they are hired to teach one, two, or three classes on a semester by semester contract.  They aren't full time employees of the university. 

Provisions have been made for people to participate through teleconference.  The training is 90 minutes.

Interview with Director Title IX Coordinator

I spoke with Marva Watson who is the UAA Title IX Coordinator.  But that's just one of her hats under the larger umbrella (I guess this metaphor is going to be one about being well protected from rain, not quite what I intended) of Director, Campus Diversity & Compliance.  The Title IX Coordinator is NOT a new position set up in response to this new Department of Education investigation.  Watson's had that title for two years.  She also has two investigators working for her who will be doing the training -  Jerry Trew and Stephanie Whaley -  and they've been doing that for a couple of years now.  
The training will basically cover 
  • Understand nature of the no tolerance policy
  • Responsible parties, how to report.
  • Bystander intervention
  • What constitutes consent
 Some of this information is already online.  There is, for example, a flow chart for someone who has been assaulted, showing the steps and options for making a report or just talking to someone.

There's a similar flow chart for UAA employees to report incidents of student misconduct or harassment.  Though I think the title is a little misleading.  The chart is for helping students who have been harassed, not for reporting incidents or perpetrators.  It also leaves me wondering if the procedure is the same or different for employees who have been assaulted or harassed.  (I hadn't looked at these before I talked to Watson, so I didn't get to ask her and I'm supposed to head to the hospital and see my new gbaby soon, so I'm not going to check now.  My quick peek yesterday was a tonic for all the world's ills.)

I did have a list of questions to ask, but Watson answered a couple of them before I even asked.

1.  She knows that faculty are off contract right now.
2.  There will be more training in August when faculty come back on contract.

She also said that the UAA training is all being done in-house, so there is no extra cost to bring in trainers, though, of course, there is the cost of everyone's time.  All three campuses (UAA, UAF, and UAS) are undergoing training, but each campus is working out its own approach.

This new push is related to the federal Title IX investigation, but Watson stressed that this sort of training has been ongoing.  There will be an attempt to get as many people trained as is possible, but it's not mandatory.  

I also asked if students got this training and Watson said that it's part of new student orientation. 

I was hoping that I could sit in on one of the trainings before posting this, but it's turned out I am traveling this week I'm just not going to be able to connect to the online training today either.   Here's the whole schedule for now. 

I do believe that the Chancellor is taking this seriously (his letter is below.)  But I also know that there is training and training. I suspect that it's important to not have talking heads do the training for this.  It needs to be interactive, with good multi-media, and lots of ways to engage the trainees and help them internalize the urgency of the issues and how to respond.  There's also a problem with all race and gender related training.  If it's voluntary, the people who need it most, won't come.  If it's mandatory, the people who need it most will be very resistant.  But in this case maybe that's not the case.  Here,  "those need it most" probably doesn't mean those who think it's a non-issue.  Instead it's really those employees who will have someone come to them in trouble.   And those folks are the ones a student might feel are most sympathetic.   Ones who do get the problem and want to know what to do.

I'm hoping this is just the first step, and my short talk with Watson suggests that's the case. 

Below is the letter.
Dear UAA Community,

At UAA we take pride in promoting a culture of respect and a safe environment for our faculty, staff and students. There is no better way to stop sexual harassment and misconduct than to be informed and educated. Safety is everyone's business at UAA and to that end I am asking all faculty and staff to attend a Title IX training. Trainings begin Monday, June 16.
The United States Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights placed the University of Alaska system on a list of colleges and universities nationwide that will be audited for compliance with Title IX. Many people know of Title IX from athletics, especially its important role bringing about gender equity in sports. But Title IX is more than a sports law, and it aims to bring gender equity to all educational programs, especially through the elimination of sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus. UAA shares in that goal and welcomes this review, as it will provide us with an opportunity to showcase our efforts and to learn about deficient areas requiring improvement. My ultimate goal is that our students, faculty, and staff are safe and know what services are available if they are sexually harassed or assaulted or if they receive a report of that nature. This review helps us achieve that.
The UAA campus has appointed Marva Watson, as Title IX Coordinator and Dr. Dewain L. Lee, as Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Through their efforts, we have been working to provide Title IX training to our community. This compliance review and its accompanying guidance provide us with extra incentive to train our entire community now.
A schedule of 36 live training sessions begin June 16, some of which are available via videoconferencing. For all dates and registration information click this link:
Our goal is for 100% of faculty and staff to be trained.
Everyone should feel safe on all of our UAA campuses. Participating in Title IX training is one part of your responsibility to ensure that a culture of safety and equity exists.
Thank you.
Best regards,
Chancellor Tom Case
Chancellor Tom Case

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