Campus Climate Committee
The UAA Campus Climate Committee is charged with assessing campus climate on issues ranging from sexual violence awareness and prevention, gender equity education, and campus culture/climate assessment and action. The FY20 UAA Campus Climate Committee is led by tri-chairs: Sara Childress, Director of Equity and Compliance and Title IX Coordinator; Kim Morton, Director of Student Life and Leadership; and Bruce Schultz, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.
According to Paul Landen, chair of the Campus Climate Committee last year, “LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff are simply invisible at UAA. LGBTQ+ students feel as if there is no place for them. We as an institution do not talk about LGBTQ+ issues. That needs to change, and we encourage the Chancellor and Cabinet to take the lead in changing that.” With that as it’s charge, this year the committee is focused on increasing supports and visibility for LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff. Our goals are to continue to create inclusive environments for all students on campus.
Students, faculty and staff are invited to volunteer to serve on one of the following four work teams:
- Strengthen the on-campus presence and awareness of LGBTQ+ community resources and agencies and encouraging campus partners to collaborate with these groups
- Guide existing student programs and service providers to develop welcoming and deliberate information specific to LGBTQ+ students and serving as a resource to the programs
- Provide education and training opportunities for faculty and staff on LGBTQ+ concerns
- Guide existing campus programming units to develop intentional activities and programs of particular interest to LGBTQ+ students
If you are interested in serving on one of these four work teams, please email email@example.com. We are excited to bring staff, faculty and students together to work on creating more support for LGBTQ+ students on campus.
Report and Recommendations for 18-19
May 9, 2019
TO: Chancellor Sandeen
FROM: Paul Landen, Professor, Chair - Title IX Campus Climate Committee
RE: Report and Recommendations for 18-19
The main emphasis of the Title IX Campus Climate Committee this year was on LGBTQ+ issues. We created a new Subcommittee consisting of Julia Duff from Residence Life at UAA, Tammie Willis from Residence Life at KPC and Michael Votava from the Dean of Students Office.
The fundamental finding of the Subcommittee is that LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff are simply invisible at UAA. LGBTQ+ students feel as if there is no place for them. We, as an institution, do not talk about LGBTQ+ issues. That needs to change and we encourage the Chancellor and Cabinet to take the lead in changing that.
One major task of the Subcommittee was to assess current data. According to Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Services Lora Volden, UAA does not collect LGBTQ+ data on UAA students. Similarly, according to UAA Assessment and Strategic Projects Director Whitney Brown, UAA Student Affairs does not have any data on LGBTQ+ students. Michael Votava reviewed the last climate survey's results, and found 9 respondents identified as gay, 8 as lesbian, 66 as bisexual, 14 as questioning, 17 as asexual, and 15 as other. In summary, there is little data or statistics available, on which we can rely, to understand LGBTQ+ students' experiences on campus. A student, who is also a member of the Drag Club, is conducting an LGBTQ+ climate survey as a class project that has approximately 60 respondents, but much more is needed.
Recommendation: UAA should seriously consider conducting an LGBTQ+ climate survey that does the following:
- Helps UAA understand the current climate for LGBTQ+ students at UAA,
- Helps UAA recognize the needs of LGBTQ+ students that are currently met or not met and,
- Helps UAA understand what steps or actions are needed to change the institutional cultural of UAA to be more open, embracing and supportive of LBGTQ+ students.
Another major task of the Subcommittee was identifying resources for LGBTQ+ students. One of the major resources cited is often the Safe Zone program. LGBTQ+ students, however, do not see Safe Zone as a resource for LGBTQ+ students. They tend to see it primarily as a resource for faculty and staff and feel it has little to do with them. This information was gathered through discussions with the members of the Drag Club, which is the only active LGBTQ+ student organization on campus. According to members of the Drag Club, they tend to act as the focal point for student support on campus. As an advocacy group, they are active and visible on campus as well as in the community so LGBTQ+ students tend to seek them out when needing assistance. Because there are no visible LGBTQ+ supports or resources on campus, they tend to refer LGBTQ+ students to off campus resources.
Long Term Recommendation: Hire an LGBTQ+ Coordinator, who would provide support and resources to LGBTQ+ students as well as working to increase advocacy, education and awareness across campus. This person could also be responsible for Safe Zone and coordinating with other departments on campus to provide activities/programs on key LGBTQ+ dates and LGBTQ+ month.
Short Term Recommendation: LGBTQ+ students will go where they know it is safe for them to go and seek supports from places that they know are safe. For this reason, it is imperative that UAA start demonstrating and defining safe spaces on campus for their LGBTQ+ students.
Immediate Recommendations include:
- Counseling Services: While the Counseling Center is LGBTQ+ friendly, LGBTQ+ students do not know this and instead utilize off campus supports they know to be friendly. Counseling Services should spell it out and specify on marketing material, website and special promotions that the counseling center offers services specific to LGBTQ+ students and/or is LGBTQ+ friendly. Perhaps develop a brochure specifically for LGBTQ+ students.
- Multicultural Center: Currently there are no programs or activities sponsored by the University that celebrates the LGBTQ+ community. There are a number of LGBTQ+ important dates that would create opportunities for UAA to show its support of our LGBTQ+ students—National Coming Out Day, Day of Silence or Pride and World AIDS Day, offer many opportunities to coordinate activities at the University level. Adding one or more of these activities to the Multicultural Center calendar and building them into the UAA tradition could help LGBTQ+ students work with UAA staff and faculty to create a culture on campus where they know they are welcomed.
- Safe Zone: Safe Zone is currently staffed by a handful of volunteers who maintain fulltime responsibilities in other areas and lack the time necessary to make Safe Zone successful. If Safe Zone is going to be the flagship show of support for LGBTQ+ students, it needs more resources and supports from upper level administration. Housing it in Residence Life may not be optimal. A staff remember reported it taking over three months to receive a response to an email to the Safe Zone email address – the primary resource on our website for LGBTQ+ issues. Student Affairs may be a more appropriate home.
- Find ways, as an institution, to collaborate with Identity, Inc. and other off campus resources to bring them on campus to help develop better on campus supports and resources for LGBTQ+ students and to help build a bridge between off campus and on campus resources for LGBTQ+ students.
A third area examined by the Subcommittee relates to the databases and systems used by the University. It appears that database systems are inconsistent in how they manage preferred names, which unfortunately creates several opportunities for misgendering and dead-naming—especially in terms of housing, conduct and student services.
Recommendation: Continue to explore the possibility of changing those systems that pull legal names from banner to also pull preferred names.
A final recommendation related to LGBTQ+ issues is simply having the Chancellor and other senior officials speak out in support of our LGBTQ+ students. When there are anti-LGBTQ+ activists speaking on campus, simply stating, that “while the University respects and protects free speech, the anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments being expressed on campus do not reflect the views of the University.” There needs to be regular, clear messages of support for LGBTQ+ students. The silence from the University during the recent anti-Trans ballot initiative in Anchorage was noticed by our LGBTQ+ students, staff and faculty. Our Committee acknowledges that the political realities in Alaska make this a challenging issue but strongly believe the University needs to be a stronger voice in our State for our LGBTQ+ students, faculty and staff.
There were several other recommendations and outcomes from our Subcommittees this year:
Data and Policy Subcommittee – Dede Allen and Neil Best, Co-Chairs – completed an emergency revision to the BOR mandatory reporting policy related to faculty research, drafted a transgender athletics policy, and, in compliance with the VRA, coordinated with OEC and the Justice Center on a climate survey. They are looking at doing a campus climate survey for staff in the coming year.
Prevention and Resources Subcommittee – Michael DiBattista, Chair – This Subcommittee has two recommendations:
- The Seawolves Speak Up campaign needs increased support because it shifts the climate from offering assistance to survivors to preventing assaults.
- They also suggest that we need a tiered approach to prevention efforts. We need to start the year with a clear plan for a prevention campaign. For example, we can have Bystander training as an option for Freshmen GER courses and then increase efforts to get each student to attend a prevention program each year.
Student Engagement and Leadership Subcommittee – Ty Hewitt, Chair – The Subcommittee suggests partnering with Dr. Noah Lelek at Texas Woman's University who has worked with many of the topics that we were interested in pursuing as part of the Title IX training.
Structural Suggestions – The Committee discussed the following questions during our meeting:
- How can we lessen the barriers to what we want to accomplish?
- What should we do differently?
The Committee makes the following structural suggestions to the Incoming Chair and the Chancellor:
- We need a clear mission/purpose statement, which among other things, defines how the Committee works and fits with the Title IX office. For example, should Title IX staff Chair or Co-Chair Subcommittees?
- Committee Size: This year it was suggested we make the Committee smaller. That did not seem to work. We should increase faculty and student involvement. The Committee relies too much on Staff.
- The Committee and Subcommittees may function better if we identify very specific tasks, like the LGBTQ task force, so that accountability can be increased.
- Continuity- make sure that information is completely and thoroughly communicated between Subcommittee chairs from year to year and between Chairs, whenever there is change, as will be the case this year.
- The Committee requests increased feedback from the Chancellor and Cabinet:
- Are the recommendations seen as helpful?
- Is the information from the Committee useful in decision making?
- How can the Committee better track what’s working and what’s not working?
- The Committee needs to be more visible, similar to the DAC. One thing that can be done easily is development of a webpage. Another idea is to send regular email updates.
In conclusion, my deepest thanks to all who participated with the Campus Climate Committee this year. I look forward to providing the incoming Chair with any additional information s/he requires.
Thank you Chancellor Sandeen for your support of this Committee and consideration of these recommendations.