Yesterday, an Education Department analysis revealed that Secretary Betsy DeVos’s newly proposed Title IX rules would significantly decrease the number of reports of and investigations into campus sexual misconduct, therefore saving colleges and school districts millions of dollars over the next decade.
Under the new rules, investigations into college campus sexual misconduct would drop 39 percent, and investigations into sexual misconducts involving elementary and secondary education institutions would drop 50 percent.
According to a New York Times report, DeVos is proposing new rules that would narrow the definition of sexual harassment, reduce liability for schools and universities, and strengthen protections for students accused of assault, harassment, or rape. Schools would be required to approach all investigations under the presumption that the accused is innocent, placing the burden on the victim to prove they were assaulted.
“The Trump administration is sending us back to an ugly time when rape victims suffered in silence in our schools, and perpetrators were able to assault multiple women with impunity,” said Gaylynn Burroughs, Director of Policy and Research at the Feminist Majority Foundation, in a previous statement.
This new rules adopt the Supreme Court’s definition of sexual harassment, which is defined as “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s program or activity.”
According to the New York Times report, this new standard would find an institution in violation of the law “only if its response to the sexual harassment is clearly unreasonable in light of known circumstances.” Further, the proposed rule allows schools to decide whether to have an appeals process when addressing sexual assault and allows the use of mediation between the victims and perpetrators, essentially forcing victims to “work it out” with their rapists.
Last year, DeVos rescinded policies and guidance that protected survivors of sexual assault and worked to reduce the high rates of sexual misconduct on school campuses. “Through this action, we are left wondering whether Secretary DeVos takes equal access to education for survivors seriously,” testified Burroughs before Office of Postsecondary Education. “By withdrawing the 2011 and 2014 guidance, this Administration has unfortunately sent the message that women’s education is disposable. They can either put up with sexual violence or get out.”
One in five women and one in sixteen men will be sexually assaulted while in college, and 90 percent of survivors will never report the attack.
Newswire Sources: The New York Times 8/29/18, 9/10/18; Feminist Newswire 10/6/17, 9/22/17