How Betsy DeVos' Title IX Changes Could Change School Environments

Title IX was put into place to ban discrimination, including sexual assault, based on sex in any school or educational program that is federally funded. This protects victims from the mental and physical repercussions.

To understand the changes put in place by Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, it is best to know what she stands for politically. DeVos is affiliated with the Republican party and is typically referred to as a more conservative representative. Many people believe that DeVos is  one of the most controversial people to hold the position for Secretary of Education. DeVos has ties to programs and scholarships that help children, teens, and young adults achieve their goals of higher education.

The Washington Post made a statement saying that Betsy DeVos is “trying to sweep rape under the rug.” The new policy is supposed to narrow the technical definition of sexual assault and rape. To some lawmakers this may seem like a benefit, but it actually is making it harder for victims to come forward and know that their experience is justified. Before victims were able to report things to people they trust, such as teachers, nurses, coaches, and doctors. Now the changes will require victims to report incidents to those who can take action like police officers and security. It is said that police will require more concrete evidence to help move forward with cases. This can be problematic if a victim doesn’t feel comfortable getting a rape kit or date rape analysis because it can make their case seem ‘less valid’ to others based on the criteria of evidence. Part of the statement on the department of education website also mentioned, “The proposed rule would require schools to apply basic due process protections for students, including a presumption of innocence throughout the grievance process; written notice of allegations and an equal opportunity to review all evidence collected; and the right to cross- examination.” There can be multiple ways a presumption of innocence can go based on the environment of the school.

The statement released on the Department of Education website made it clear that the intentions were what they thought best. “Continuing its efforts to ensure equal access to education free from discrimination, today the U.S. Department of Education released its proposal on improving schools' responses to sexual harassment and assault was developed after more than a year of research, deliberation, and gathering input from students, advocates, school administrators, Title IX coordinators, and other stakeholders,” was released to the public on their website.

The term “other stakeholders” is an interesting term in this subject, a stakeholder is typically defined as a person with an interest or concern in something, especially a business. I personally feel that businesses with a financial investment in policies are more likely to influence it in ways that can financially benefit them in the future. In my personal opinion I don’t see this as something that is ethical or right. Why would businesses have a say in the things that directly affect my health and safety? This can be similar to presidential candidates having their campaigns funded by the NRA and then supporting only pro-gun agendas and policies.  

Secretary DeVos: Proposed Title IX Rule Provides Clarity for Schools, Support for Survivors, and Due Process Rights for All. (2018, November 16). Retrieved from https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/secretary-devos-proposed-title-ix...

McWilliams, J. (2019, February 15). Victims of Campus Sexual Assault and the Accused Stand to Lose From Devos' Proposed Changes to Title IX. Retrieved from https://psmag.com/education/devoss-proposed-title-ix-changes-could-harm-...

Davidson, J. (2018, September 06). Betsy DeVos is trying to sweep rape back under the rug. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/betsy-devos-is-trying-to-sweep-r...