HC Wake-Up Call: New Rules for Colleges on Sexual Assault, 5 Newly-Elected Congresswomen On Diversity, Pelosi & Biden Adopted a Shelter Dog

Good morning, Her Campus! With a break-neck news cycle, there is no possible way for you to stay on top of every story that comes across your feeds—we’re all only human, after all.

But, life comes at you fast. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this quick and dirty guide to stories you might’ve been sleeping on (like, literally. It’s early.)

New Rules for Colleges On Sexual Assault

The Trump administration announced new rules Friday for how to handle sexual assault and harassment cases that would narrow the definition of sexual harassment and provide more protection to students that are accused.

The effort to revamp the guidelines that were set in place during the Obama administration is aimed at college campuses and universities.

“Every survivor of sexual violence must be taken seriously, and every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined,” DeVos said in a statement.

via Gage Skidmore - Flickr

“We can, and must, condemn sexual violence and punish those who perpetrate it while ensuring a fair grievance process,” she added. “Those are not mutually exclusive ideas. They are the very essence of how Americans understand justice to function.”

One of the biggest changes to the rules is how sexual harassment is defined. Under the Obama administration, the definition of sexual harassment was “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” Under the new definition, it would be defined as unwanted sexual contact that is “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient's education program or activity,” ABC News reports.

The new definition would narrow the number of harassment cases that campuses would consider because the victim would have to show that the misconduct prevents them from receiving an education or participating in an activity.

According to ABC News, the Education Department says that it based this new definition off of a 1999 Supreme Court case that held that student-on-student harassment could constitute discrimination.

The new guidelines also require that any alleged harassment “must involve conduct that occurred within the school's own program or activity,” which could include an off-campus activity as long as it was tied to the school.

Furthermore, someone who is accused of sexual misconduct would be permitted to cross-examine their accuser, as long as it was through an attorney or adviser.

The new rules have received some clapback, however. Fatima Goss Graves, head of the National Women's Law Center, said the new rules would weaken the federal oversight of colleges responding to sexual misconduct allegations and would make campuses “more dangerous.”

“Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education, hear us loud and clear: attacks on Title IX are attacks on students' dignity and safety — and we will not tolerate it,” she said, adding that her group will fight the new rules from being implemented.

Once the new rules are posted online, they will be subject to public comment for 60 days. Depending on the response, the Education Department will decide whether to make the rules final.

5 Newly-Elected Congresswomen on Diversity & Pelosi

After seeing a record number of women being elected to Congress in the 2018 midterm elections, ABC News “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz spoke with five newly-elected Congresswomen about diversity in 116th Congress and whether Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) should be the next Speaker of the House.

Reps.-elect Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Deb Haaland (D-NM), Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Donna Shalala (D-FL) all discussed how it was significant to have more women joining Congress.

via ABC News

“We’ve got a bevy of experience here, and I think part of who I am, part of how I view the world is informed by the fact that I’m a woman, that I’m a mother, that I’m a sister and a daughter and a wife…” Spanberger, who defeated incumbent Rep. David Brat, said.

Haaland, one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, told Raddatz, “For a group of folks in our country who have been here for thousands of years and being so underrepresented in Congress, … I think it means a tremendous amount to folks in those communities feeling like they can finally have representation.”

“I always say, I’ll leave the ladder down. It’s great being the first. We never want to be the last,” Haaland.

Besides all of the new diversity in Congress, including Underwood, who is the youngest African-American member of Congress ever elected, all of the women come with an abundance of experience.

“I’m a freshman, but not a rookie,” Shalala, who at 77-years-old is the second-oldest House freshman in U.S. history. She had served as Health and Human Services Secretary during former President Bill Clinton’s two terms in office.

Houlahan served in the Air Force, and Spanberger was a CIA officer, and both said that they are “used to serving a mission” and this is their new mission.

Raddatz asked the women about the issue of leadership in the House, but only two of the Congresswomen said they would vote for Pelosi to become Speaker of the House. Two were undecided, and once said she would vote against Pelosi.

“I think that if we are going to turn the page and bring civility back to the political discussion, which as a values statement is incredibly important in my home district, that I think we need to change the people who are directing that conversation,” Spanberger said.

Haaland and Shalala countered, saying that Pelosi’s leadership was exactly what was needed at this point in the Trump administration.

“She’s the only person I believe that we need in this tumultuous time with the president we have, to stay on track to make sure that we are fulfilling promises to the American people,” Haaland said.

Biden Adopted a Super Cute Shelter Dog

Former Vice President Joe Biden has a new four-legged friend.

On Saturday, Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, adopted an adorable German shepherd named Major from the Delaware Humane Association, according to the animal shelter.

According to The Huffington Post, the Bidens had already been fostering Major for the shelter and decided to permanently adopt him.

The Delaware Humane Association wrote that Major came from a litter of puppies that were “not doing well at all” after some surrendered them. When the shelter posted about the cute German shepherd pups on social media, the Bidens “caught wind of them and reached out immediately.”

In a statement to HuffPost, the shelter said that all of Major’s siblings have also found permanent homes.

“We are so happy to welcome Major to the Biden family, and we are grateful to the Delaware Humane Association for their work in finding forever homes for Major and countless other animals,” the Bidens, along with the family’s other German shepherd, Champ, said in the association’s statement.

Biden received some criticism when the family got Champ from a high-volume breeder in 2008, rather than going to a shelter to adopt a dog. But on Saturday, many were praising Biden for opting to adopt.

Congrats to Major on finding his fur-ever home!

What to look out for…

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