University of Alaska To Reopen 23 Sexual Assault And Harassment Cases

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The University of Alaska will reopen 23 sexual assault and sexual harassment complaint files at its three campuses under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

In an announcement Monday, University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen said the university would also complete a list of steps to improve its responses to such complaints in the future.

The 23 complaints that UA needs to reassess, according to the agreement, were brought between 2011 and mid-2015, Johnsen said at a news conference Monday afternoon announcing the agreement with the federal government. He acknowledged that the university’s compliance problems ranged from “very serious failures to documentation issues.”

The 18-page agreement follows a nearly three-year review by the Office for Civil Rights into the university system’s handling of sexual assault and sexual harassment complaints.

In the agreement, the Office for Civil Rights said its concerns were illustrated in the 23 complaints. The complaints came from all three UA campuses and involved students, staff, faculty and community members. In all cases, the federal office identified specific ways UA had failed or the steps it had missed.

In many cases, the university did not provide complainants temporary relief, like classroom changes or new living situations, among other interim measures, while the cases were investigated. In a few cases, UA failed to promptly complete its investigation.

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