Prevention of discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct

Micheal PowersThe University of Alaska Fairbanks supports and promotes an environment where all community members are treated with common courtesy, compassion, dignity and respect. Every member of the university community has a right to a working and learning environment free of sex discrimination, including sexual and gender-based harassment, assault and violence. Protection from sex discrimination is extended to all students, employees and third parties, including those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

The UAF standards are included below.

— UAF Chancellor Mike Powers

UAF standards:
Discriminatory harassment that violates regents’ policy and university regulation includes verbal or physical conduct that degrades, and/or shows hostility or aversion to an individual because of his or her race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, genetic information, marital status, changes in marital status, pregnancy, parenthood, sexual orientation, gender, sexual stereotype, veteran status, citizenship, mental/physical disability, or that of one’s friends, relatives, or associates. 

According to University of Alaska Board of Regents policy 04.02 “sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where:

(a) submission to or rejection of such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person’s job, pay, career or educational opportunity, or;

(b) submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment or educational decisions affecting that individual, or;

(c) such conduct has the purpose or necessary effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or creating a hostile, intimidating or offensive working or learning environment.” 

Sexual misconduct is an egregious form of sexual harassment. Examples include but are not limited to domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, cyber-bullying, bullying, hazing, sexual exploitation, non-consensual sexual contact and non-consensual sexual intercourse.” 

Assistance for victims of sexual misconduct: 
Victims of sexual misconduct may choose from the available options:  (1) confidential counseling/reporting; (2) Title IX reporting and assistance; or (3) criminal reporting. 

1. Confidential counseling/reporting: If the victim of sexual violence wants assistance with recovery and healing but does not want to engage university Title IX or law enforcement processes, he or she can disclose to a person who can keep the information confidetial. In Alaska, only those with a professional or clerical licensure, such as a psychologist, medical doctor or licensed counselor, can promise confidentiality. Below are three places where all community members can find confidential assistance.

  • UAF Student Health and Counseling Center on the Fairbanks campus can be reached at 474-7043. It's open weekdays 8 a.m.– 5 p.m.
  • The UAF Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel employs Jennifer Peeks, licensed social worker. She can be reached at 907-543-4537.
  • The Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living in Fairbanks is an off-campus nonprofit service. The phone number is 907-452-2293.

In addition, victims may seek confidential counseling by contacting any of the off-campus resources listed on the UAF Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity website: https://www.uaf.edu/titleix/get-help/confidential-resources/.

2. Title IX reporting and assistance:  Victims may seek assistance and/or file a Title IX complaint in person or online. Title IX is an administrative process where individuals request resolution assistance, remedies and/or an investigation. UAF is committed to taking prompt and effective steps to end all sexual and gender-based harassment, assault and violence; eliminate the hostile environment; prevent its recurrence; and, as appropriate, remedy its effects. This includes conducting a prompt and equitable investigation and immediately and appropriately addressing any violations of policy. When investigations are initiated, reasonable efforts are made to preserve confidentiality, although absolute confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. In administrative cases, a “preponderance” of evidence is the standard that must be met to prove a policy violation. This means the evidence must show a violation “more likely than not” occurred. Our website can be found at https://www.uaf.edu/titleix/file-a-report/. A list of official Title IX contacts is included below.

3.  Criminal reporting:  A victim can report the incident to the police, which initiates a criminal investigation that goes through the legal system.Criminal complaints are processed by the UAF Police Department or other law enforcement agencies. Criminal and administrative investigations may occur simultaneously. Criminal charges must be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is a higher standard than administrative processes require to prove a violation.

Title IX services, remedies and interim measures:
If you are a victim of sex harassment or violence, UAF can take measures to assist you. Examples of remedies include but are not limited to: ensuring the harasser has no contact with the reported victim; changing classes; relocating to a different dorm; free counseling; and academic support such as tutoring, mentoring, making up work, and retaking or withdrawing from a class without penalty. Even if the sexual misconduct occurs off campus and the accused is not affiliated with UAF, resources can be requested and made available.

Sanctions and consequences:
When harassment is investigated and substantiated, disciplinary action will be taken. The facts of the incidents determine what disciplinary action is appropriate. For employees, the possible sanctions include verbal and written reprimands, probation, suspension and/or termination. For students, the possible sanctions include warning, probation, denial of benefits, restitution, discretionary sanction, restricted access, suspension, expulsion and/or revocation of a degree.

Responsible employee reporting obligation:
Students and employees have a right to assistance in resolving harassing behavior. When harassing behavior is reported, the UAF employee is required to take the following actions:

  • Ensure the safety of all concerned. If there is risk, immediately call 911.
  • Within 24 hours of learning of an incident of sexual misconduct, contact a Title IX administrator. (listed above).
  •  If the incident is of a violent or criminal nature, or if you need immediate assistance after normal business hours, call the UAF Police Department at 474-7721. 

Power differential:
Community members in positions of power must be especially diligent in their behavior. Below are excerpts from regents' policy 04.02:

“Since some members of the university community hold positions of authority that may involve the legitimate exercise of power over others, it is their responsibility to be sensitive to that power. Faculty and supervisors in particular, in their relationship with students and subordinates, need to be aware of potential conflicts of interest and the possible compromise of their evaluative capacity. Because there is an inherent power difference in these relationships, the potential exists for the less powerful person to perceive a coercive element in suggestions regarding activities outside those inherent in the professional relationship.”

“It is the responsibility of faculty and staff to behave in such a manner that their words or actions cannot reasonably be perceived as sexually coercive, abusive, or exploitative.”

“Faculty members or staff who engage in sexual relations with students enrolled in their classes or subject to their supervision, even when both parties have consented to the relationship, will be engaging in unprofessional behavior."

“Supervisors who have authority or control over employees and engage in sexual relations with those employees abuse their power, even when both parties have consented to the relationship.”

Retaliatory harassment:
Community members who oppose discrimination, file discrimination complaints or serve as witnesses in discrimination investigations are protected against retaliation. Here again are samples of regents' policy:

“All persons have the right to complain about any conduct which they reasonably believe constitutes discrimination.  No university official may take disciplinary or other adverse action against a person who genuinely but mistakenly believes himself or herself to be discriminated against, even if the practices complained of do not, in fact, constitute discrimination."

"Threats or other forms of intimidation or retaliation against complainants, respondents, witnesses or investigators will constitute a violation of this regulation and may be subject to separate administrative action, including termination for cause.”

Positive environment:
While not all acts of harassing behavior may be sufficiently severe or pervasive to trigger a violation of policy, all harassing behavior can negatively impact the organization and adversely affect our educational mission. All community members are responsible for creating a positive environment and play a role in preventing discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct.

Our website can be found at www.uaf.edu/titleix/file-a-report/. You may contact the Title IX office at 474-7300 or any of the individuals below for assistance. Our central email for lodging complaints is UAF-DEO@alaska.edu.

Mae Marsh, Title IX Coordinator
D&EO Director
mmarsh36@alaska.edu
907-474-7599     

Anita Hartmann, Deputy Coordinator
HR Associate Director
amhartmann@alaska.edu
907-474-7700

Jamie Napolski, Deputy Coordinator
Residence Life Assistant Director
jrabreu@alaska.edu
907-474-1885

Andrea Schmidt, Deputy Coordinator
Student Athlete Advisor
alschmidt3@alaska.edu
907-474-5174

Dianna James, Title IX Contact
Community & Technical College
drjames3@alaska.edu
907-455-286

Linda Joule, Title IX Contact
Director Chukchi Campus, Kotzebue
lcjoule@alaska.edu
907-442-3400

Mary Pete, Title IX Contact
Director Kuskokwim Campus, Bethel
mpete@alaska.edu
907-543-4502

Casie Stockdale, Title IX Contact  
Kuskokwim Campus, Bethel
castockdale@alaska.edu
907-543-4562

Kacey Miller, Title IX Contact
Northwest Campus, Nome
klmiller@alaska.edu
907-443-8416

Sandra Long, Title IX Contact
Bristol Bay Campus, Dillingham
sclong@alaska.edu
907-842-5109