Betsy DeVos’s proposal to tackle sexual assault in schools has met with a storm of negative feedback and open calls for her immediate resignation. The ED proposals come as an effort to introduce changes to Title IX, federal legislation which outlaws sex discrimination in an educational institution receiving federal funding. Title IX governs a wide range of measures, which are supposed to combat sexual assault and violence in schools, colleges and universities. Those institutions, that do not comply with the regulation, risk losing federal funding for good.
Changes to Title IX, proposed by DeVos-led Education Department, are alarming to say the least, teachers, activists and experts all say. They dangerously narrow down the definition of sexual assault and violence and allow a far more loose interpretation of sexual misconduct than before. Ultimately, this would allow perpetrators to avoid responsibility and more cases of victims being denied justice would ensue.
The public are especially outraged with the vulnerability of victims that proposed changes open up yet again. For instance, the new proposals suggest that the perpetrator can cross-examine the victim and might also choose another person for cross-examination. Experts and survivors say the stigma of going through such an experience can leave people scarred for life, and the chances of being granted justice will be ever slimmer.
Reporting sexual harassment will get harder, too, since the schools will be no longer directly responsible for uncovering and tackling assault. As well as that, the proposals have it that schools cannot be held accountable for violence, which happens off the campuses. Activists argue that this approach is fundamentally wrong, as such traumas inevitably affect students’ behavior and well-being on the campus.
Nearly 100,000 comments were left on the Title IX proposals, which the ED is obliged to respond to. Betsy DeVos is one of the few original Cabinet appointments, who survived through the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency. While she has not been associated with any scandals during this time, the general mood against her is very strong, expressing ongoing demands for her resignation. The ED did not comment on the negative feedback on proposed Title IX changes.
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