In mid-July, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that she is considering changes to how the Department of Education enforces Title IX (“9”) with respect to campus sexual assault, specifically the 2011 guidelines for how colleges and universities respond to allegations of sexual violence between students on and off campus.These guidelines, outlined in a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), defines schools’ responsibilities in building a safe and responsive campus, clarifies the requirement that schools must independently investigate reports of sexual violence between students (regardless of the existence of a criminal investigation), and defines “preponderance of the evidence” as the burden of proof necessary when adjudicating sexual assault cases on campus.
Since 2011, many universities have overhauled their programs for reporting and investigating sexual assault, educating campuses on sex discrimination and providing support for victims of sexual violence. A rushed roll-back of these rules by the administration would send a terrible message to students and administrators and would undermine the protections universities, students and activists have worked so hard to implement.
Underlining concerns that this administration is ill-equipped to handle sexual assault policy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Department’s Civil Rights Division Candice Jackson stated to the New York Times that 90% of sexual assault accusations “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up.” While Asst. Secretary Jackson has apologized for these remarks, they indicate a department that does not take sexual assault seriously, and call into question her ability to fairly evaluate and manage the Department’s policies around this sensitive and critical issue.
Twenty state Attorney Generals have already written to Secretary DeVos strongly opposing any roll-back of the Title IX protections and expressing concerns about the continuing role of Assistant Secretary Jackson. These AG’s were from: CA, CT, DE, DC, HI, IL, IA, KY, ME, MD, MA, MN, NM, NY, NC, OR, PA, RI, VT, VA.
CALL Betsy DeVos, Department of Education 202-401-3000 and Missouri Attorney General Joshua Hawley
573-751-3321 (SEE SCRIPTS BELOW)
SCRIPTS: (5 calls): Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m an American from Springfield.
[IF DEPT of ED] I’m calling to urge Secretary DeVos to maintain the critical Title IX protections for survivors of campus sexual assault as guided by the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter. This is a serious and troubling epidemic, and it is vital that schools maintain strong policy guidelines to protect its vulnerable students.
[ALL OTHER STATES] I’m calling to urge [AG NAME] to join with other state Attorneys General in opposing any rollback of the Title 9 college campus sexual assault protections by the Department of Education. This is a serious and troubling epidemic, and it is vital that schools maintain strong policy guidelines to protect its vulnerable students.
Thank you for your time and attention.