What You Need to Know About Betsy Devos' Title IX Announcement

            Sexual harassment in education includes any unwanted and unwelcome sexual behavior that significantly interferes with a student's access to educational opportunities. The Supreme Court has confirmed that schools have an obligation under Title IX to prevent and address harassment against students, regardless of whether the harassment is perpetrated by peers, teachers, or other school officials.” 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            -taken from TitleIX.info 

 

 

 

I first heard the whisperings of it on Wednesday. I was scrolling through my Twitter page when I saw a tweet from WNBA player Kelsey Plum about current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos reportedly looking to roll back Title IX enforcement. I was horrified. My first thought was that female athletes would not necessarily be getting the same monetary allocations as their male counterparts. That’s what I believed to be all that Title IX covered. I was ignorant to the fact that it did so much more.

 

Along with balancing monetary allocations for men’s and women’s sports in schools, Title IX also handles sexual assault in schools. When DeVos said that she wanted to rollback Title IX enforcement what she meant was rolling back an Obama-era campaign that was created to help victims of sexual assault.

 

According to the Politico article, “DeVos to Scrap Obama-era school sexual assault policy” DeVos wants to “develop a replacement that she said would do a better job of balancing the rights of victims and the accused.”

 

One of the biggest objectors to this plan is former Vice President Joe Biden, who was a big force in creating the Obama-era campaign that cracked down on sexual assault on college campuses.

 

Biden told Politico, “I’m asking everyone who has a stake in this fight to step up. Students, parents, faculty, alumni. Don’t just sit and watch. Speak up.”

 

When the Obama campaign was announced in 2011, critics argued that it took away the rights of the accused. In campus disciplinary hearings the standard of proof for sexual assault is now lower than what is used in criminal trials.  

 

The Education Department’s spokeswoman Liz Hill said that the agency will issue temporary Title IX guidelines for schools to follow during interim before new guidelines are put in place.

 

In July, DeVos met with reporter and told them, “It’s clear that there are failings in this process. A system without due process protections ultimately serves no one in the end.”

 

 

My Take

 

Mostly a bunch of currently unanswerable questions and ramblings until we get more answers.

 

So what does this mean for sexual assault victims? It’s already such an impossibly difficult thing to come out as a victim of sexual assault. Will DeVos’ plan make it even harder?

 

I can understand that people who are accused of sexual assault deserve a fair trial, as everyone does. But victims need to be able to feel like they will not be pushed away if they come forward. We cannot deny them their rights as well. These young men and women deserve to have their stories heard without someone denying or brushing them to the side.

 

I can only hope that DeVos’ plan does not unravel all the good work that former President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden did to help protect victims and give them a voice.

 

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