U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos criticized the Dear Colleague Letter during her speech about sexual misconduct on campuses. Although she announced no specific changes, it seems she is possibly rescinding this portion of Title IX. This action must be prevented because it would be a huge step back for the U.S.
Title IX is a section of the Education Acts of 1972 that fights against discrimination of sex. In 2011, under former President Barack Obama’s administration, the U.S. Department of Education released a Dear Colleague Letter in regards to Title IX. This guidance gives schools detailed protocol for handling sexual misconduct cases among students.
The act draws more attention to sexual misconduct on campuses and allows schools to effectively take immediate action, especially when the government is unable to.
Title IX should stay because it gives an extra protective layer for students. Additionally, students may be increasingly more comfortable with speaking up about their experiences when they know that action will be taken to protect them.
During her speech, DeVos said “Washington has burdened schools with increasingly elaborate and confusing guidelines.”
But the Dear Colleague Letter seems to be clear about which forms of sexual misconduct and which situations warrant an investigation of an incident. It proves usefulness by providing a guide to help schools decide what to do when certain situations arise so that they can take action to further prevent this issue from occurring in the future.
DeVos brought up the issue of the lack of due process on both sides of a sexual misconduct case. This would mean taking it up with the legal system. The prosecution may take years before a perpetrator of sexual misconduct is convicted.
Survivors of sexual abuse will not want to run into their perpetrators after such a traumatizing experience. Imagine the pain and horror of having to face the person who took away something that can never be given back. For survivors to wait possibly years for their perpetrators to pay for the crime they committed, is absolutely absurd.
Acts of sexual abuse are disgusting and dehumanizing. The Title IX Guidance alleviates this.
It gives schools the authority to make the environment safer for survivors by taking necessary actions against the perpetrators, whether that be firing the student from their on-campus job or expelling them.
DeVos stated that the previous administration “listened to survivors, who have brought this issue out from the backrooms of student-life offices and into the light of day.”
She wrongly criticized the act calling it a “failed system.” It has helped shed light on an issue far too common on school campuses. Given sexual assault incidents’ history as a largely taboo topic in the past, DeVos should be grateful, not critical of the attention that is being drawn toward them.
Now our society has become more open to hearing stories in regards to sexual abuse, and now survivors are less afraid to speak up about it. More are willing to talk about their experiences.
Students are being heard. They are being viewed as survivors rather than victims, the latter term indicating weakness.
With Title IX, more people would accept the fact that sexual abuse is an issue in society, leading to more survivors speaking out.
The first step to solving the problem is bringing awareness to it, which is what the 2011 Title IX Guidance is doing. To have it rescinded would mean taking a huge step back in the progress that former Obama made.