The United States Department of Education announced on Sept. 22 that it will be rescinding Obama-era guidance on how schools should handle sexual assault cases under Title IX.
Title IX is among the education amendments passed by the Supreme Court in 1972 and states “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
Under federal law, colleges and universities are legally required to resolve hostile situations in educational facilities, according to knowyourix.org.
Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, said earlier this month that the Department of Education was concerned that Obama-era guidance on sexual assault cases under Title IX denied those accused of rape of proper due process.
The Department of Education released a Q&A full of recommendations on how they feel schools should respond to claims of sexual assault. This allows schools to raise their standard of evidence in sexual assault cases, meaning they will need more proof than before to prove an accused person’s guilt.
The department is also rescinding Obama’s Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Violence, which gave the federal government jurisdiction over the procedures that colleges must take when a student accuses a peer of sexual misconduct. It also rescinded the Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence, which provided universities with information on how to handle such circumstances.
Until 1973, victims of sexual assault were forced, in most cases, to carry their attacker’s child. Until 1993, marital rape was not a crime in the United States. DeVos’ decision to rescind parts of Title IX is a step in the wrong direction regarding sexual assault survivors’ rights.
One in five women are sexually assaulted while in college and one in 16 men are victims, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Rescinding parts of Title IX is reminiscent of the past.
There is already a stigma around coming forward to report an assault. Victims are often asked invasive questions like: “What were you wearing?” and “Had you been drinking?”
Questions like these make the victim feel as though they did something wrong. DeVos’ decision says to many of them that they are at fault and that they did something wrong. Victims who are already apprehensive about coming forward will no doubt feel even less confident doing so in light of this decision.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Trump administration plans on moving further back in history with each passing day and this decision is right in line with that plan.
DeVos believes that those accused of sexual assault deserve more rights than those who were actually assaulted and her decision to rescind parts of Title IX is a slap in the face to sexual assault victims.
Isabel Soisson is a sophomore journalism major from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.