By: Abbey Morelli, Contributor
On Thursday, Sept. 7 th , Betsy DeVos announced her intention to make changes to Obama-era legislation regarding sexual assault on college campuses. DeVos, The Education Secretary, has released her opinions on Title IX in regards to the accused and their right to due process, otherwise known as fair treatment within the judicial system.
“The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many
students. Survivors, victims of the lack of due process and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved,” DeVos commented in her announcement.
It is clear to me as to why those “victims,” also known as the people being investigated
for sexually assaulting other students, would agree with her. DeVos claims that the current methods of investigation are too aggressive and inefficient. While she does mention that the survivors are not being represented well by the Obama Administration’s Title IX guidance, her sole focus appears to be on the accused, when in reality it is victims of rape who are in most need of legislative protection.
My first complaint would be her negligence to acknowledge the larger scope of who is
reporting sexual assault. Men, women and all members of the LGBTQ community should be involved in this issue, as both survivors and accused. DeVos also attempts to back her statement regarding how accused parties are treated by mentioning that some men have attempted suicide. Assuming the party is guilty, many would see this attempt as a way to escape further punishment for a heinous crime.
Although Betsy DeVos has not yet explicitly stated which components of Title IX she
plans to rewrite, her announcement has already caused havoc among sexual assault survivors, support and awareness groups and former political figures.
“Today’s announcement that the Department of Education plans to rewrite key Title IX
guidance which works to address and prevent sexual assault in our schools is a step in the wrong direction… any change that weakens Title IX protections will be devastating,” wrote Joe Biden on Facebook.
While having access to due process is an American right, DeVos’s plans put college
students in jeopardy. As Biden stated, it will be a step backward. People will be less likely to report an assault if they are unsure that their attackers will be charged rightfully and removed from their campus, a place which is meant to be a safe home away from home. Colleges all across the States have been making headway in how they handle such sensitive cases. Rewriting Title IX has negative implications that challenge the safety of campuses.
The prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses is appalling. It is essential for
college administrators to implement strong measures against such infractions. It is a relevant and serious matter that cannot be overlooked simply because the person in question may or may not be guilty. As a Furman student, knowing that Title IX is effective lets students know, at the very least, that there are people who will take action in the event of sexual assault. Furman takes accusations seriously and works to attain as much information as possible surrounding this topic. It would be detrimental to students to have this small piece of security ripped away after they have already lost so much more.