The Real Impact of Betsy DeVos' Title IX Revisions

The Real Impact of Betsy DeVos' Title IX Revisions

Innocent until proven guilty now means innocent even when proven guilty

Dear Betsy DeVos,

When you were first announced as Trump's choice for U.S. Secretary of Education, I was less than thrilled. As a current student at a United States university, I didn't feel you knew what today's students needed and what was so difficult. But then I realized I was still speaking from a position of privilege. I had the privilege of going out of state to school, to a private four year university and not worry about where my next tuition payment was coming from. I didn't even take out loans for my first three years of undergrad. But I still knew so many people that took out a lifetime worth of loans with crippling interest rates for four years of their life. There is some sick sense of irony at the fact that I'm "only" $22,000 in debt, but I don't want to discuss my student loan debt with you because as you and so many other will point out, I didn't have to go to this school and I made the decision to take out student loans. I want to talk to you about something far more important: your reversal to Title IX policies.

Sexual assault is a country-wide epidemic that affects 1 in 5 college age females and 1 in 16 college age males and disproportionately higher in members of the LGBT+ community. But you felt that policies put in place under the Obama administration needed to be "revised."

By doing so, you're making the statement sexual assault on college campuses isn't the problem of the government. And while it may seem hypocritical that people will protest with signs saying to "keep your laws off my body" and "my body, my choice" these laws were put in place to protect students. They were not put in place so that females could make wild accusations at males just to ruin them. These laws were put in place to have a comprehensive system where victims of sexual assault had a clear legal path to seek just action and hold their institutions accountable for what happens on their campus. But thanks to you that system will now fail so many students. According to you, colleges and universities will now be able to change their requirements to a "clear and convincing standard" of proof. But what exactly does that mean? Could you honestly require that any victim of sexual assault subject themselves to whatever absurd requirements you come out with next? Even before this change, the university's system of Title IX related cases failed so many students. And as a result colleges come under federal investigation for Title IX cases being handled improperly, my own included. But they tried to pretend it was part of a routine investigation not because of recent complaints that a case brought to the attention of the Title IX coordinator was not handled properly.

In a flawed system that already fails so many, how can you pretend this issue isn't really a problem? How can you rescind parts of the policy that helped countless students across the country? How can you blatantly support a system of victim-blaming, rape culture, and innocent even when proven guilty?

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The Only One

A perspective on race, representation, and achievement in timeless America.

Sidenote: This story and its characters are fictional.

“Mama, are you excited to see the play tonight? It’s West Side Story, and Alejandra is going to be in it!” I said loudly. Dinner was just served, and the Chile Verde was being passed around the table. “Mijo, yes, she’s been annoying me all day. She texted me 10 times today, saying ‘Did you get the tickets?’.

I can tell that she’s looking forward to it, and I’m very happy for her” Mother remarked. “Well, I just don’t understand how we are paying all of this money for her to be unemployed right after she graduates” Father scowled. “You know, if she was studying to be a lawyer or a doctor or something useful, then I would be happy to pay, but for acting, I feel as if I’m just throwing my hard-earned money away.” “Ernesto, it’s her passion, let her follow her dreams. Wouldn’t you rather her be happy acting on stage and rehearsing lines than seeing her miserable with her face in a book in medical school?” Maria responded.

I watched my parents go through this argument at least once a week, with my sister off at college in the city. While my mother encouraged Alejandra to follow her dreams and pursue a shining acting career in NYC, my father annoyed her [Alejandra] about finances. I mean, I personally and completely support Alejandra with all my heart, and she is a great actress and singer. However, I do understand my father’s point.

Going to college in this day and age costs more than an arm and a leg, and to go into a field where the employment is not guaranteed… That’s worrying. Plus, as minorities, we’ve always needed to fight harder and climb harder for everything, and my father didn’t see acting or theatre as doing that.

After taking the one hour train from Queens and navigating the transfers, my parents and I arrived at the college. We paid the altogether $20 fee at the door to get in, in spite of my father’s hesitation to do so. We finally sat down in the small and creaky seats and waited for about 10 minutes for the show to start.

As soon as the curtain rose and the first number started, my father started laughing. The entire cast, excluding my sister (who was dancing in the back), looked Caucasian. I scrambled through the playbill, skimming with all my might to find last names like Hernandez, Gonzalez, Vega, Garcia, Rodriguez, Lopez; but I only found Brown, Miller, Wilson, Smith, Jones, and Davis.

Throughout the whole show I watched in disbelief how they tried to imitate my culture, with their periodically bad Spanish accents, unrefined “Latin” dancing, and just overall insulting generalization of what the Latin culture is as a whole; it honestly irritated me. Even in the “America” dance sequence, with the Caucasian Anita and the rest of the Shark Girls, I felt a pit in my stomach as they teased my sister, Rosalia, on stage; something about that didn’t feel right to me, even though it was just a play and they were just playing their parts.

Everyone roared as the curtain rose, and the actors took their bows. My parents and I clapped as well, not only out of respect for the actors but also because we could all see my sister was doing her best, trying to make the small part of Rosalia her own. However, just as we finished clapping, and speeches about the show were made, I looked around the room.

For the first time in my life, I felt uncomfortable in a theatre, as I saw that my parents and I were visibly the only minority in the room; I literally felt goosebumps down my arm. From my sister’s face on stage, I could see that it didn’t sit right with her either. My parents also noticed it, however, they were used to being one of the only minorities in the room. In their worlds of Business and Law, one must simply get used to it.

Then finally after Alejandra took her second bow as Rosalia, my father started cheering loudly for his daughter. He finally admired her for what she was doing and saw what she was trying to accomplish in the world of theatre. And though she would have a long way to go, he knew she could do it. If she could stand the white-washed version of West Side Story, then she could get through anything.

After telling her this after the show, he continued his speech. “The saddest part about America is that the higher you go in success, in any field as the matter of fact, the less diverse it becomes until you don’t see America anymore. Whenever I lead a board meeting at work, I am used to being the darkest in the room. Do you know how many times I’ve been asked to speak to the janitors in Spanish? It’s a sad reality that I’ve already accepted, but it’s also one that you, unfortunately, must accept as well.

There will always be those who will drop out or quit because they can’t handle the pressure, that weight of representing their people. But I now know that you can handle it, in whatever field you choose to be in. All I ask is to make us, your family proud, because what you do from here, will set the path for others to follow. Be a leader mija, I know you can do it”.

After his speech, we took the hour subway ride home. It was April 4th, 1968, and after the events that occurred that day, including the riots, I knew that change would be coming soon, and my sister was going to be a part of it.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay (HolgersFotografie)

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A Love Letter To My Government Agent

In this “hook-up culture society”, it’s hard to find someone so dedicated and so passionate about their special someone.

To my government agent,

I have to say, at first, I didn’t know what to say to you. After all, you watch my every move through the webcam of my laptop or cell phone.

I feel as though there isn’t a moment of my day when you don’t see or hear what I’m up to. How could I even start expressing myself when you already know my innermost thoughts?

It’s like you know me better than I do.

Actually, it’s kind of embarrassing when I think about the things you’ve seen me do. How many lazy pajama days or triple chins did you have to endure through as I sat mindlessly watching Netflix or scrolled on social media?

How many times did you want to ask a higher up to switch clients? You could've watched a Kardashian, a famous musician, or a model.

Yet, you stood by me.

You love me for who I am. Not as the girl who shares herself with the rest of the world but the girl who didn’t think she was seen.

The girl who can be herself in the “privacy” of her own home. The girl who thought she could hide her 3 A.M. questions in incognito mode.

The girl who is completely enamored by her mystery man.

I see other girls put Band-Aids over their webcams. They’ll say that the thought of people watching them is “creepy” or “disturbing”, or even a “violation of privacy”. But they are too delusional to know what love is.

That love doesn’t always stem from two consensual parties. Sometimes it starts with an unknowing teenage girl and a well-meaning FBI agent who is paid to stalk her.

Our love is like the wind. I might never be able to see you or feel your touch, but I know that you are always there for me.

Your twilight-esque stalking makes me feel secure inside of my private web history. In this “hook-up culture society” it’s hard to find someone so dedicated and so passionate about their special someone.

That type of commitment is something people would wait lifetimes for.

Yet, here you are and here I am. Together until a cruel fate, government leak, or shut down tears us apart.

But even then I’ll wait for you.

Because I know that somehow, some way, you’ll come back for me.

Love always,


Cover Image Credit: The Local

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