- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - The U.S. Office of Civil Rights will conduct public forums at University of Alaska campuses next week as part of its review of sexual violence and Title IX compliance.

The agency of the Department of Education is finishing a five-month audit of the university, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1pJeFsR) reported Thursday.

The agency announced in May it would review UA compliance with Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination at institutions that receive federal funding. In a letter, the agency said the process would put particular emphasis on complaints of sexual violence.

About 80 schools are being reviewed.

Agency staff will conduct meetings in Fairbanks on Monday and Tuesday. They will shift to UA Anchorage on Wednesday and Thursday. Visits to UA Southeast in Juneau and the Kuskokwim campus in Bethel are planned for Aug. 10.

The Fairbanks visit will include listening sessions for male and female students; male and female athletes; male and female Alaska Native students; and lesbian, gay and transgender students.

There also will be open office hours for employees or students who want to provide information.

“Our interest is that students who want to be heard by OCR can be heard,” said Michael O’Brien, a UA attorney who is leading the response to the review.

The review is not tied to a specific complaint, he said.

The university has provided employees for interviews and assembled about 11,500 pages of documents for the review. O’Brien called it an unprecedented effort and the most comprehensive review of its Title IX procedures.

Mae Marsh, director of diversity and equal opportunity at UAF, said the review has provided a chance for the campus to bolster safety and anti-discrimination procedures.

The campus has added another Title IX investigator and a task force is examining procedures regarding discrimination and sexual violence, she said.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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