Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rolled back Obama-era guidance on Title IX. In doing so, the Trump administration made clear what many have expected all along: That it does not and will not stand with survivors of sexual violence on campus.
Let’s start from the beginning. The phrase “Title IX” gets thrown around a lot in conversation, especially on college campuses, but what exactly does it mean? In support of “It’s On Us” week, Jerk is here to give you the full rundown on the deal with the Title IX article, from what it means to how it has changed in the Trump administration, and how Democrats are fighting back against DeVos.
What is Title IX?
The Title IX law states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
In other words, Title IX is designed to protect victims against any form of sexual discrimination in federally funded schools. Both public and private universities receive federal funding, which means almost all schools have to comply to Title IX regulations.
What does complying to Title IX entail?
Under Title IX, schools must have a procedure in place to handle any allegations of sexual violence. This includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, and any sort of sex discrimination. This is called a grievance procedure, and it is handled by the school’s designated (and required) Title IX coordinator.
Mediation is not required between the victim and the accused, and is actually a violation of Title IX if required for or suggested to a victim of sexual violence. The school should investigate a case within 60 days of the complaint. Schools also must make sure the victim doesn’t have to work, live, or attend class with the accused and can bar the accused from coming into any contact with the victim.
What happens if a school breaks Title IX regulations?
If a school doesn’t provide students with a grievance procedure or a timely response to violence, forces mediation between the victim and the accused, or otherwise breaks Title IX regulations, they risk losing federal funding. In most cases, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) investigates the school’s mishandling of a complaint, and works with the school to better adhere to Title IX regulations.
How has the Trump administration changed Title IX?
Under the Title IX regulations Betsy DeVos rolled out, schools will no longer be required to investigate a case within 60 days. Instead, schools must make a “good faith effort” to carry out a “fair, impartial investigation in a timely manner,” with no deadline enforced.
An appeal, or chance to review a case or make changes to it, is no longer automatically granted for all students involved, either. Now, the school can choose to allow appeals from all involved, not allow an appeal at all, or only accept an appeal from the accused.
While Title IX originally granted victims confidentiality, except in very special circumstances, DeVos’s regulations require schools inform the accused of the case against them and give them “sufficient time to prepare” before being questioned. DeVos’s regulations also allow cross-examination, which means the accused can call for the victim to be re-questioned based on evidence they brought up in their own questioning, or vice versa.
Gag orders, or the prevention of parties from discussing the investigation, have been deemed unfair under the Trump’s administration. Schools are allowed to facilitate ‘an informal resolution’ between the victim and the accused. This includes mediation between the victim and attacker.
Long story short these changes to Title IX are alarming, at best. DeVos’ rollback doesn’t benefit anyone but the accused.
What are Democrats Doing to Prevent the Erasure of Title IX Regulations?
In response to DeVos’s plan, Democrats crafted the Title IX Protection Act, which would serve to protect the original Title IX regulations that have been in place throughout the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. These regulations adhere more closely to what sexual violence prevention advocates and what victims have fought for by placing victims’ safety and comfort at the forefront.