What the New Changes in Title IX Policy Mean for Survivors On College Campuses

Title IX Recap

In an earlier article, Title IX was broken down to the basics, which is a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, personal appearance, gender identity and expression, family responsibilities, political affiliation, source of income, veteran status, an individual's genetic information or any other bases under federal or local laws in literally all university-affiliated activities, events, and in daily campus life. Additionally, the college campuses explicitly prohibit any type of discriminatory harassment. Dating harassment includes dating violence, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and stalking.

In light of recently proposed changes to Title IX, you may be wonder what, exactly, are these new changes?

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is preparing new policies on campus sexual misconduct that would bolster the rights of students accused of assault, harassment, or rape. These new policies dramatically improve the chances of walking free for the accused while simultaneously limiting a school's ability to provide more support for victims.

Additionally, the proposed rules narrow the definition of sexual harassment which makes it much more difficult to hold the accused accountable. This new definition ultimately helps the accused while being prosecuted because it broadens what is now legal sexual harassment. 

In addition to narrowing the definition of sexual harassment, Devos has effectively removed the promptness requirement for sexual assault allegations. This is a problem because it states that there is no fixed time frame under which a school must complete a Title IX investigation. Lack of time restraints could deter victims from pursuing justice due to fear of dragging on something as emotionally tolling as sexual assault. According to Devos, the Office of Civil Rights, OCR , will evaluate a school’s good faith effort to conduct a fair, impartial investigation in a timely manner designed to provide all parties with resolution.

What do these new changes mean for women on college campuses?

The narrowed assault definition coupled with bolstering the rights of the accused, removal of time frames, and limiting a school's victim support system could lead to an exacerbation of rape culture on college campuses. While we already know that rape culture is well and alive today, Title IX's implementation and history of success has made it more difficult to commit this crime and get away with it, as such, and has diminished the presence of rape culture among college social interaction. Unfortunately, stripping victim and institutional protection within Title IX guidelines is a step in the wrong direction for the women's rights movement--and the movement's response isn't likely to be a positive one.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5