DeVos and Title IX

How Trump's Administration Missed the Mark on Title IX

Photo Design: National Sexual Violence Resource Center

In recent weeks the discussion of Title IX reform was made public and we had a glimpse of the change to Title IX. Many of the reforms that were put in place by Former Vice-President Joe Biden were put in place to hold schools more accountable for handling Title IX cases reported between students are under fire by the Trump administration. Many schools will report a total of one, potentially two sexual misconduct cases per school year on their public statistics. If a parent ever asks about the safety of the campus every response is that the campus is extremely safe. However, when speaking to students to on campus quite frequently their experiences will differ. The basis for the movie The Hunting Ground is students filing Title IX complaints for unresolved Title IX complaints on campuses. 

Trump's administration is working to change the Title IX reporting for schools and supposedly hold them more accountable, but is making survivors lose faith in the reporting. The administration claims that these are less biased, but one of the people spearheading the support for the administration is a man whose son was accused of sexual misconduct, Tom Rossley.

To be clear, there should always be due process and evidence gathered in any investigation. I certainly don't disagree with that. What I disagree with is the tone of the conversation surrounding Title IX. People argue that Title IX has resulted in witch hunting and man-hating. Protecting the rights of sexual assault victims should never be confused with those two things. 1-in-5 women are likely to be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, 1-in-10 men are likely to be assaulted while he is in college. Its estimated that only 2-8 percent of rape accusations are false accusations, which is the same false reporting rate of any other crime. Yet victims that report sexual assault are responsible for proving the crime happened to them and need to be the "model victim."

Having people in school, be they administration members or professors, as mandated reporters in school is not meant to make the students out to be predators nor is it to create an atmosphere of hysteria. This is to ensure students safety, should a student wish to report and not know how to report or want to remain anonymous in their reports than these staff members can help them to bring their complaint to the appropriate school authority. Students are never compelled to report just like in most criminal cases they are not compelled to report. Students must always be informed of their rights and in too many colleges and universities, despite the current standards in place, students do not know how to file their complaints. When it comes to such an invading and troubling experience the last thing a vulnerable student needs is to feel abandoned by their university. Yet many survivors are abandoned.

The idea that the Obama administration policies were designed to create hysteria and presume the guilt of the accused is astonishing. Protecting a survivors rights and students safety are extremely important matters and as always, people are presumed innocent in the cases that come forward. Too innocent. On my campus an assailant was merely moved to a different, in fact better, dorm than the one he had originally been in and only left the university because he didn't understand why people no longer wanted to be his friend. And the survivor was berated for having left her room door unlocked and bullied by the university to drop the charges. 

Coming forward about an assault I already difficult enough for any student, female or male. There should not be any more added stress to this trying time in their lives. Taking away the provision to protect the anonymity of accusers is, quite frankly, stupid. In a college setting it is possible for the potential predator to harass their accuser if they dorm near each other, have classes together, or work together on campus. The provision for the accuser to be anonymous is a very important protection that needs to remain in place or no students would report assaults whatsoever. 

Many of the issues people take with Title IX provisions are based of off false statistics and victim blaming ideologies that are ingrained in our culture and need to change. Former Vice-President Joe Biden launched his Its On Us campaign to change these ideologies starting with college students. This platform challenges the ideas that a victim somehow "asked for it" through dress or alcohol consumption. It educates students on their rights to reporting, their Title IX resources, and challenges students to stand up if they see toxic behavior happening around them and potentially save someone from a terrifying experience. Rape can lead to traumatic disorders and can manifest in permanent changes in lifestyle. An article published in the Atlantic claimed that rape is not a life threatening incident even though some can be. Regardless of how the rape occurs, whether violent and including beating or not, the brain does not differentiate and treat them the same, it will actually treat it the same as someone holding a gun to your head and threatening to shoot. 

The Title IX protections and precautions are put in place in order to protect survivors and to ensure that their needs are met in one of their greatest times of need. This is not made to create hysteria or man hating on campuses and is not meant to result in men just being expelled from schools. It is not meant to make schools force survivors to report nor is it in existence to create higher tensions on college campuses. It is there to protect your family as they try to pursue higher education.

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