This morning, the Department of Education’s Betsy DeVos proposed discriminatory new rules that completely undermine existing Title IX protections for sexual assault survivors. While the Department has been touting its concern for due process, the new rule shows that DeVos is more concerned with saving schools’ money and making it easier to get away with sexual violence.
Make no mistake, the proposed rules make schools less safe for survivors. They propose a narrower definition of sexual harassment and allow schools to use a higher standard of proof to decide whether the accused committed sexual assault. The rules also make it more difficult for schools to be held legally accountable for failing to investigate a complaint. These are but some examples of the ways this rule abandons survivors and denies them their civil rights.
This discriminatory rule comes at a time when survivors are increasingly speaking out, calling on the Administration and Congress to witness their stories and strengthen protections and support. It also comes on the heels of the Senate’s confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, despite the fact that brave women came forward to report that he sexually assaulted them. The message from this Administration is clear: diminish survivors and discourage them from reporting.
Title IX was established almost 50 years ago to prevent gender discrimination and ensure equal access to education. It is estimated that 3 million college students will be sexually assaulted this year; most of those assaults will go unreported. Sexual violence remains a significant risk for college students, especially for women, people of color, and transgender students. It is more urgent than ever to tell DeVos to do her job and uphold Title IX protections for survivors—and once the rules are officially published and open for public comment, we’ll mobilize our community to do just that.
NOTE: The rules around Title IX have not yet changed. For more information about your rights, see our resource for survivors of campus sexual assault, Know Your Rights.