Betsy DeVos's Dangerous Proposed Title IX Changes

The Secretary of the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, has proposed plans to redefine sexual assault on college campuses and redefine how they are handled within disciplinary actions. The changes would take power away from survivors of sexual violence and put it into the hands of the assaulters and rapists.

Three key changes stand out:

  1. Universities would be freed from taking responsibility of sexual assault that occurs off-campus.

This hurts students who experience sexual violence at home, at off-campus housing, and more.

  1. If a survivor doesn’t report to the right person first, a sexual assault case would be dismissed.

Many survivors confide in a trusted person first, like a professor or friend, while they are processing what happened to them. If a survivor doesn’t strategize who they tell and when, they could lose any chance for justice.

  1. Sexual assault must be “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” so that it denies a student their education.  

Everyone handles trauma differently. Someone you see in class everyday could be a sexual assault survivor (and according to statistics, it’s more likely than not). This guideline also suggests that sexual assault has to happen multiple times or reach some cruel level of torture before it is legitimate and considered worthy of a university’s attention.

These proposed changes have faced backlash, as over 100,000 messages were logged during the public comment period. Some people expressed their support for the changes, but an overwhelming amount of people slammed DeVos and the Department of Education, citing the MeToo movement in their comments. Bucknell University’s President, John Bravman, wrote a letter regarding the proposed changes:

At Bucknell University, we have been and remain committed to our efforts to prevent sexual misconduct, to hold offenders accountable, and to provide all students with a fair process through which allegations of sexual misconduct are addressed. These unwavering commitments are not the result of federal guidance or even the law; they are a reflection of who we strive to be as an institution.

Bucknell Title IX coordinator, Kate Grimes, agrees with Bravman, saying, “I agree and believe that regardless of what happens with the new regulations, Bucknell's commitment to support our students will not change.”

DeVos and the Department of Education will review all the comments and feedback before moving forward.

You can read President Bravman’s full letter here and the proposed regulations here.