Over 700 students at Christopher University have signed a petition asking their school to be better than their government. Although Title IX laws are under threat of government repeal, these students ask CNU to stand by these laws anyway.
The petition reads:
"In the wake of a concerning political climate, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Trump administration is rolling back sexual assault guidelines issued by former President Barack Obama’s administration.
DeVos said the guidelines will be rolled back, she did not announce any new policies that would immediately be put in place to help combat sexual assault on college and university campuses across the country.
Title IX laws and regulations have made my school a better place. The rights and safety of victims of sexual assault should not be a political tool up for debate at the whims and discretion of politicians.
Title IX laws have saved the lives of my friends. They have taught people what assault actually means. They have made college-aged men (and women) fearful of the consequences when they do these things. Victim stigma has gone down, and positive awareness and events acknowledging the problem have risen. One in three women will be sexually assaulted in college, and this motion is a disgrace to every woman who has suffered from sexual assault at the hands of predatory men.
My school, Christopher Newport University, has been extremely socially responsible in dealing with these issues and taking Title IX violations seriously. It makes me feel safe on my campus.
Despite what happens in Congress, I believe my school is better than that. Because I believe this so deeply, I ask Christopher Newport University to pledge that it will continue to abide by Title IX regulations no matter what they say in Congress, so that CNU can be a safe place for all students, including victims of sexual assault, so that we can all feel safe pursuing our dreams here as a community, and I ask that we, as a campus, will take on the social responsibility to continue to abide by Title IX regulations of dealing with complaints of sexual assault and protections for victims, no matter what the law says we should or should not do. Even if the law is repealed, I ask that my school pledges to still abide by these principles and regulatory procedures, because that is who we are as Captains, and I know that is what we stand for, and I pray that we will stand by protecting these values, even if our government won't."
In addition to receiving over 700 signatures in under 48 hours, the petition has received over 50 comments.
Marsha DiFrango wrote, "My daughter is a Captain. We think very highly of CNU and believe President Trible will do what's right."
Some had family members at the school and expressed their concerns for the students' well-being. Kay Sempel commented, "I'm signing this petition because my granddaughter attends this school and I want her to have every safeguard available, and I am concerned about all her fellow students. CNU has an amazing campus culture and I hope and pray it will continue to safeguard all students."
Ashton Elizabeth said she hopes we can find our own policies. Ashton wrote, "I am an alumni of CNU and proud social worker in the Hampton Roads community who supports the Title IX program not only CNU but Title XI protection for everyone who needs it. If there are cuts to this program from administration in Washington we must as a community have a discussion about finding a way to ensure the protections of this program are upheld."
Laura Head of Newport News, Virginia, wrote, "I'm signing this because Christopher Newport University has always upheld the value to protect its students. I learned all about Title IX and how many people it has helped during my training as school staff.
After years of difficulty for victims to speak out, finally came a law which helped give students benefit of the doubt, and supply them with a feeling of safe and open arms over a sometimes cold harsh view of law enforcement. It is incredibly difficult for most victims to speak out, and for Betsy Devos to espouse the belief that most people want to abuse that system is beyond my understanding. Christopher Newport University needs to retain its policy of transparency when it comes to sexual assault on campus, in order to keep its long-held integrity."
Cassaundra Porter echoed concerns that we should not take this issue lightly: "1/3 women are sexually assaulted in college and 3/3 are at risk... that's more than enough of a statistic to stand by Title IX. Period."
Kyle Gunderson expressed faith in the school and said he hopes other students across the nation will also hold their schools accountable. Kyle wrote, "Not only do I know and care about a sufferer, but people who hurt others irreparably need to be held accountable. I see no way CNU won't continue protecting people, but the rest of the country needs this too."
Kyle DeGud said that CNU's strong stance on sexual assault is part of the reason he chose CNU to begin with. "The Title IX policies on campus are part of the reasons I selected CNU, I feel safe. These cannot change."Iqra Tariq writes, "My body and every human's body deserve respect and freedom."
The petition is less than two days old and has yet to be delivered to the university. But CNU students are expressing overwhelming faith in their school to do the right thing, and it's inevitable that CNU must respond by proving them right.