The University of Alaska at Fairbanks "failed to follow [its] student discipline policies" in cases of campus sexual assault, the university’s interim chancellor wrote in an open letter Tuesday.
"Like so many universities, our reported sexual assault statistics have been so low as to be implausible, especially when we know that sexual assault is so prevalent in Alaska," Mike Powers, the university’s interim chancellor, wrote. "We investigated reports of rape, and often took informal action like removing the accused from dorms or campus. But, until recently, students were not being suspended or expelled for sexual assault, or for any major violation of our code of conduct. That is not acceptable and sends the wrong message to victims and perpetrators of this heinous violence."
The university became aware of its "inconsistent disciplinary practices" last year, Powers said. The university is one of more than 100 institutions currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for possibly mishandling cases of campus sexual assault. "We, like so many other universities, lost our way and are finding our path forward," Powers wrote.