Ourview: Proposed Title IX changes do more harm than good for assault survivors


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Devos has not confirmed any of the regulation changes as of yet.

Sierra Rozen and Lauren Sanchez

In a disappointing, but not surprising turn of events, the Trump administration is once again working to make things difficult for the general population.

It has been reported by the New York Times that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is trying to make changes to Title IX legislations. For those that don’t know, Title IX is a federal civil rights law that basically prevents anyone from being discriminated against on the basis of sex.

Title IX has also been crucial in helping survivors of sexual assault and harassment obtain justice on their college campuses.

Some of the rumoured changes that have been reported include having mediation as a possible solution, allowing both parties to cross-examine one another, and changing the definition of sexual assault to “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 education program or activity.”

DeVos claims this will make it easier for colleges to handle sexual assault cases since there will be new hoops for the victims to jump through in order to lead their case.

These changes will only serve to benefit those accused of sexual assault. We know this because only those accused can appeal an investigations decision, only the accused can wave the 60 day investigation time frame and, you guessed it, only the accused can recommend allowing the cross-examination.

All the power in the situation has been put in the hands of the person accused of sexual assault, leaving the victim in an unsafe and vulnerable position during an investigation. Not to mention that having a victim in the same room as their accuser is just plain unsafe in general.

These changes also limit a college’s legal liability to only assaults that happen on campus or within school sanctioned programs. Translation: you only have a case if you were assaulted on campus or at a campus event. Say you were assaulted by a fellow student at a party off campus? No dice.

While due process is all good and fun, why are we giving people accused of sexual assault more control over the situation than we should?

It would be so easy for the accused to simply say the assault didn’t happen on campus. They could get a group of people to say the same thing; that it all happened on the other side of town. Then what? Even if the accused loses their case, they can still make an appeal!

All of these potential new changes only make one thing clear: they are not survivor friendly whatsoever. Making a survivor meet face to face with their perpetrator can be quite traumatic.

Even though these changes aren’t confirmed yet, if they do come to fruition, the most important thing you can do is take advantage of the commenting period. This allows you to send in your complaints once the changes actually happen.

Also keep in mind that if these changes go into effect, most survivors will need lots of support if this actually happens. Title IX and sexual assault can be tricky issues, but reaching out to support survivors is always key.