September 23, 2019

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ACTION: Oppose DeVos's Misguided Title IX Rules

11/29/2018

Today, the Department of Education’s discriminatory Title IX rules were officially posted for public comment. Please take a few minutes to submit a comment opposing these discriminatory rules.

 

Here's how:

 

  1. Visit the proposed rule's page on the Federal Register site and click the green SUBMIT A FORMAL COMMENT button.
     

  2. Enter your comment in the space provided. Use the sample comment below, or craft your own. (See these tips for submitting effective comments.)
     

  3. Choose a category from the dropdown menu. Choose "Individual" if no other category (such as teacher, student, or parent) applies to you.
     

  4. Enter your name and contact information (optional). Please note that your comment and any personal information you choose to include may be seen by the public.
     

  5. Click SUBMIT COMMENT.

 

There's no doubt about it: these rules will make schools less safe for survivors. They abandon survivors and deny them their civil rights, all under the guise of "due process" for the accused. Among other things, the proposed rules would:

 

  • drastically weaken the definition of sexual harassment to a level that will force survivors to endure severe, repeated, or escalating harassment before they can file a Title IX complaint;
     

  • allow schools to use a higher standard of proof to decide whether the accused committed sexual assault (read: make it easier to get away with sexual assault);
     

  • make it more difficult for schools to be held legally accountable for failing to investigate a complaint; and
     

  • absolve schools of any responsibility when sexual harassment or assault occurs in many off-campus settings, such as bars, parties, or online.

 

Despite what Betsy DeVos wants you to think, 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 all survivors.

 

Comments are accepted now through January 28, 2019. Watch for our shareable posts on Facebook and Twitter to mobilize your friends and family members!

SAMPLE COMMENT: If you use this comment, please BE SURE TO MAKE AT LEAST ONE EDIT. The Administration must respond to unique comments, meaning identical comments will be filtered out.

 

I am writing your office to strongly oppose the Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX. This rule removes critical protections for students who experience sexual assault while in school—an estimated 3 million this year.

 

I am particularly opposed to the rule's provisions that... (see below for suggestions)

 

The proposed rule ignores the realities of survivors who must live with trauma and fear, yet continue to go to school, do their work, and carry on. These students need the belief and support of their institutions, not doubt and deflection. I urge the Department to immediately withdraw its current proposal and dedicate its efforts to advancing policies that support—rather than underminestudents as they attempt to thrive in the wake of a sexual assault.

 

Here are some suggestions for what you can emphasize in your comment:

 

  • Schools' obligation to investigate a sexual assault is triggered only when there is a formal complaint or in the event that there have been complaints against the alleged perpetrator.
     

  • The complaint has to be directed to a person with the authority to do something about it. This reduces the likelihood that complaints will be made at all as only a small subset of school employees would have that authority.
     

  • A school's decision would be upheld as long as the school did not act in a manner that was "deliberately indifferent," which is an exceptionally low standard.
     

  • A school's failure to provide a "fair procedure" to the alleged perpetrator could be considered sexual harassment.
     

  • Both sides must have the opportunity to cross examine all witnesses, including the survivor. If the survivor or any other witness refuses to be cross-examined, their testimony will be rejected.
     

  • Schools would be able to opt out of Title IX enforcement entirely under a new religious exemption. This means schools would be able to discriminate against women, LGBTQ students, pregnant or parenting students, and/or students who access or attempt to access birth control or abortion. And since the school would not be required to notify the Department of Education, students would be left in the dark about whether their schools protect their equal access to education.
     

  • There would be no clear timeline for investigations, which means survivors may be forced to wait months, or even more than a year, to find out about the outcome of the investigations.
     

  • Schools would be allowed to use a standard of evidence that tilts investigations in favor of named harassers and rapists and against survivors, even if they use a different standard of evidence in all other types of student disciplinary hearings.

     

     

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore | Creative Commons

 

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