Statement about Sec DeVos Title IX Announcement

Statement on Announcement About Federal Title IX Enforcement

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced her intention to rescind and use a public comment process to rewrite the Obama Administration’s policies and guidance on Title IX enforcement. A 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and subsequent guidance from the U.S. Department of Education reshaped how colleges and universities understand and implement their obligation to prevent gender-based discrimination under Title IX. Under current policy, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) opened more than 300 investigations into potential institutional failures to properly protect students’ rights under Title IX. While campus sexual assault is significantly under-reported, national and institutional studies consistently find that roughly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men experience sexual assault during their time as undergraduates. LGBT students and students of color are at greater risk.   

Andy MacCracken, NCLC Executive Director and Cofounder, issued the following statement:

“I believe survivors. NCLC believes survivors.

Secretary DeVos’s remarks were based on the common myth that there is an epidemic of false accusations of sexual assault. There is not. Every study shows that false sexual assault reports are as rare as every other violent crime category. Suggesting otherwise is wildly irresponsible.

I agree with the Secretary that we must ensure effective and fair campus proceedings, and that’s exactly why we should build on the Obama Administration’s guidelines rather than start over. The guidelines pursue consistency, fidelity, and transparency at every institution and include thorough implementation suggestions using evidence-based best practices. If institutions follow them well, students know what to expect from the process. Higher education is slow to change. Without pressure from OCR, students--especially survivors--are left with the full burden of improving proceedings and policy campus by campus.

As we move into a new academic year, uncertainty about the future of federal policy is dangerous. Title IX is still the law, and institutions are obligated to implement best practices to prevent sexual assault and hold perpetrators accountable.

I urge all student leaders to participate in the public comments process Secretary DeVos announced and redouble efforts to improve campus policy and culture. NCLC will work closely with our student leaders to ensure their input and voices are heard by policymakers and federal leadership.”

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