It is a well-known fact that college students are at an increased risk of being sexually assaulted, so it would make sense for the Department of Education to do everything in their power to protect college students. However, this is the exact opposite of what is actually happening.
Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, has proven through her suggested Title IX guidelines that she does not care about the wellbeing of students. Title IX is a federal civil rights law that is meant to make sure there is gender equality in educational institutions. DeVos' suggested provisions would specifically target students that are survivors of sexual assault and make it much harder for them to get the justice that they deserve.
These suggested guidelines want to make the definition of sexual misconduct more extreme so that it forces students to have to wait longer to report the harassment they have been facing. The new definition of sexual misconduct would be
"unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient's education program or activity."
Students should not be told that the behavior of their harassers does not warrant the label of sexual misconduct because it has not happened at a high enough frequency or because it has not been damaging enough. Sexual harassment should not happen in any capacity. It is dangerous to give students no option but to wait until the harassment has become unbearable in order for someone to finally help them.
To make matters even worse, survivors have to report directly to the school's Title IX coordinator in order to receive help and protection from their school. I know that some of you may hear this and say "Well, duh, you have to talk to the people in charge of Title IX in order to get them to take action." However, this is not fair to the survivors. It takes an immense amount of courage and strength to say that you have experienced sexual violence, and the Title IX coordinator may not be the person that the student trusts enough to share their story.
Even if a student does decide to report the sex crime to a Title IX coordinator, their abuser may not even be found guilty if the evidence that is presented is not "clear and convincing." This higher standard of evidence for Title IX cases only harms the survivors by having them treated "more harshly than victims of other discriminatory campus crimes."
And according to DeVos' proposed guidelines, if a student experienced assault or harassment outside of the school's campus, then the school is no longer held responsible. Even though most forms of sexual violence take place at off-campus bars and housing, the school would no longer be under any obligation to rectify the situation. Instead of making the students best interest a priority, DeVos has made saving schools money a priority by lowering their amount of sexual misconduct cases.
The most horrifying part of all of the suggested provisions is that it would provide more protections for the people accused of sexual misconduct. They would be able to "participate in a live cross-examination of the alleged victim through a third party (although this does not apply fully to K-12 incidents)."
It is disgusting that this is even a possibility. This guideline was only created because of the ridiculous belief that most men are victims of false rape accusations. DeVos is a supporter of this belief even though it has been proven to be false. The number of rape accusations that are false fall between 2-10%. However, only 35% of all sexual assaults get reported. This means that there are even more people suffering in silence than there are men that have to face a false accusation. And in case you are asking yourself why those survivors do not come forward, it is because of people like DeVos that encourage the delusions of men's rights activists.
Without fail, society shows survivors of sexual assault just how little they care about their experiences because of the mistreatment that survivors have faced when they did come forward. They are called liars and whores and often face death threats. Why would this behavior encourage anyone to share their story? Why would anyone put themselves through that abuse just to give a false accusation?
DeVos' proposed guidelines further encourage men to sexually harass, assault, and rape women because now they know they would have the full support of their school if they were accused of sexual misconduct. No student should have to constantly worry about the very real possibility of being sexually assaulted while at school. We are the future of our nation and it is about time that we are treated with the respect that we deserve.