This week, Betsy DeVos, the Secretary for the Department of Education, proposed to eliminate protections for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses. Back in 2011, the Office of Civil Rights under President Obama issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to universities. The letter provided guidance to colleges, obligating them to combat sexual assault and harassment under Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. The letter also threatened to cut off federal funding for schools that weren’t doing enough to protect students against sexual assault.
The American Association of Universities (AAU) has found that nearly one in four female college students are the victims of sexual assault or sexual misconduct due to physical force, threats of force, or incapacitation. The U.S. Department of Justice has also found that, on average, 20.5% of college women have experienced sexual assault since entering college. The problem of sexual assault is clearly widespread, and sadly, it's also rarely reported. Many victims are afraid to come forward; the AAU says reporting rates could be as low as 5%.
Twenty state attorneys general sent a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urging her not to get rid of Obama’s guidance, which added protections for victims of campus sexual assault. Secretary DeVos says the guidance does not provide equal protection for those who may be falsely accused, however, rolling back these protections sends a message to victims everywhere that their safety is not important.
— Know Your IX (@knowyourIX) July 27, 2017