In the last year, sexual harassment, rape, and violence against women on college campuses across the country has drawn a national spot light. After countless allegations against Universities for sweeping sexual assault and harassment complaints under the proverbial rug, the federal government launched a large scale Title IX investigation looking into universities’ responses to reports and cases of sexual violence. The University of Alaska Anchorage is one of the universities under investigation.
Title IX was a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972. Also known as the Equal Opportunity in Education Act, Title IX states that no citizen can be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Title IX issues range from the availability of sports for women at public schools and universities, to environmental issues that put women and girls at a disadvantage for learning.
Title IX forum
On Wednesday, April 2nd, US Senator Lisa Murkowski met with students at UAA to discuss issues of sexual assault, harassment, and domestic violence on campus. The forum, which lasted nearly two hours, was an opportunity for students to address questions to the Senator and to relate their personal experiences here on campus.
Murkowski says it’s students themselves who will make the biggest difference.
“My focus is making sure that we have legislation that is appropriate at the federal level. The answers are really here, amongst the campus community. In terms of how you can say, you know, not in our community, not on our campus is that allowed. And working to make a difference, so that was encouraging.”
The legislation that Murkowski says she’s currently looking into is the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which is being sponsored by Senators Gillibrand and McCaskill. The act’s goal is to protect students and boost accountability and transparency at Universities. It would require new support services for students, ensure more comprehensive training for staff, create transparency requirements, require a uniform disciplinary process and coordination with law enforcement, and establish enforceable penalties for Title IX infractions.
Open to future Title IX events
Here at UAA, Murkowski says that she was impressed by the level of openness that students presented at the forum. She said that, although she hopes that universities take responsibility themselves for Title IX issue, if having a person with a title come speak to students makes a difference, she’ll consider speaking at UAS and UAF. Murkowski says that this forum was testing the waters for how this sort of forum might go in the future.
It went very well, according to Murkowski.
“Again, open communication on these issues is key. Do we really want to talk about things that scare us? Maybe we should, maybe we should. And then we wouldn’t be afraid of them.”
You’ve been listening to Senator Lisa Murkowski speak about Title IX issues on campus. I’m Mariah Brashar for KRUA.