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OurView: Trump administration unfit to rewrite Title IX regulations

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Each week the editorial board reflects on a current issue in Our View. The position taken does not necessarily reflect the opinions of everyone on the Hilltop Views staff. This week’s editorial board is composed of Viewpoints Editors Lauren Sanchez and Kenny Phipps.

Recently, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced plans to rewrite the rules regarding the policing of sexual assault on college campuses across the country. Claiming that the Obama-era policies on this issue had “failed too many students” by making campuses ”overreach” in their efforts to punish those accused of sexual assault, DeVos remarked that “One rape is one too many, one assault is one too many, one aggressive act of harassment is one too many, one person denied due process is one too many.”

The intentions behind this speech, when taken at face value, seem to be good: No student should have to undergo the terrible emotional and physical trauma of sexual assault, and no student should have their constitutional right to due process stripped away.

However, the system put in place by the Obama administration vastly improved upon the old one, in which male students could behave with impunity and victims of assault were subject to humiliating interrogations we are all too familiar with: “What were you wearing?” “How drunk were you?” Essentially, “Were you asking for it?”

In February of 2016, University of North Carolina sophomore Delaney Robinson was sexually assaulted by Allen Artis when she was drunk at a party. Robinson said that she had gone to the hospital afterwards, submitted to a rape kit, and then turned to UNC’s Department of Public Safety. It was then that the police began asking her if she “often had one night stands” and about her sexual history. Just to add salt to the wound, Robinson heard Artis’ testimony, how the police assured him that he wouldn’t be punished, how they laughed with Artis about how many phone numbers he had gotten the same night he raped her.

The story of Robinson’s treatment and the lack of action taken against Artis is only one of many. According to Bustle only 63 out of 1000 reported rapes result in arrests, and only six out of every 1000 rapists are incarcerated.

There is a very fine line to toe when dealing with an area as tricky as this one. Balancing the safety and acceptance of victims, including creating an environment where they can feel comfortable coming forward, with the rights of the accused is a very difficult job.

The Trump administration is, very clearly, not up to the task. The premier civil rights official in the Department of Education, Candice Jackson, stated that “The accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk, we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.’” This statement is an example of Rape Culture in effect within our society, and not very surprising coming from someone working for a man accused by multiple women of assault.

It’s so easy for people to discredit victims of sexual assault in order to protect the accused. It is clear from this statement the current administration is willing to disregard safety and discredit victims of sexual assault while ensuring that the accused is given due process.

While not intrinsically a bad goal to strive for (quite the opposite, actually), due process should not be used as an excuse to maintain and strengthen a culture that does painfully little to protect and provide justice for victims of sexual assault. The Trump administration and its cronies will likely to use rule changes to simply protect the president’s core constituency.

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OurView: Trump administration unfit to rewrite Title IX regulations