Today, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released final regulations for schools dealing with sexual misconduct. The new Title IX rule rolls back critical protections for student survivors by narrowing the definition of sexual harassment and by limiting the complaints that schools are obligated to investigate. The new rule is set to go into effect August 2020. For a summary, click here to read an article from the New York Times.
Upon the initial release of Secretary DeVos' proposed changes in 2018, the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault was one of many advocacy groups that submitted a letter outlining the proposal's harmful impact on survivors. The proposal garnered more than 120,000 comments in all, including many from survivors.
The following is a statement from Beth Barnhill, Executive Director for the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault:
"We are disappointed with the new Title IX rule from Secretary DeVos, which we believe will cause further harm to survivors during an already difficult and traumatizing time. What's more, the fact that Secretary DeVos released this information during a global pandemic only adds to the fear and confusion survivors have. We are very concerned about the message this sends to survivors right now, many of whom submitted comments during 2018 when Secretary DeVos opened up her proposal to the public. Our schools must be a safe place if we wish for students to come forward and report sexual misconduct, if they so choose. The coalition and its legal team will continue to do the important work of ensuring that survivors' voices are heard and their experiences validated, despite the challenges this new rule presents. Survivors cannot be ignored."
The coalition's legal department works with student survivors in middle schools, high schools, and colleges to provide free civil legal services.
On Friday at 1:00PM CST, It's On Us and End Rape on Campus are co-hosting a virtual town hall to walk survivors through the rule changes and what this means for survivor rights and campus safety, and to share their plans to continue the fight for safe campuses. For registration info, click here. For more information about It's On Us, click here. For more information on End Rape on Campus, click here.