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The Vermont Cynic

Weakening Title IX could hurt University

KATI KIRSCH

KATI KIRSCH

Keely Lyons

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U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced her plan to roll back the Obama-era Title IX guidance Sept. 22.

Title IX is a statute which prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded educational institutions. The Supreme Court decided that Title IX protections extend to sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Despite DeVos’s new guidance on Title IX, universities should continue to use the “Dear Colleague” letter when handling sexual misconduct cases. The “Dear Colleague” letter includes guidance from the Obama administration on how universities should use Title IX to handle sexual misconduct cases.

Her current guidance will further complicate sexual misconduct cases and will harm survivors.

DeVos’s new guidance will change the way some schools prosecute sexual assault. Currently, universities use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard of proof in which the decision is about whether the accused is more likely than not to have committed the crime.

However, DeVos recommends schools use either a preponderance of evidence or a “clear and convincing” standard, where there is a firm belief that a crime was committed.

DeVos suggests schools use the same burden of proof for sexual assault that they do for other conduct violations such as plagiarism.

The idea of comparing these two “conduct violations” is ludicrous. One is about academic integrity and the other is about human integrity — they can not be expected to be prosecuted in the same way when one is so repulsive.

It’s sad yet true that we live in a world where out of every 1000 rapes, only six perpetrators go to prison according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. DeVos’s plans to make the litigation process for the accused more equitable is absurd.

Sure, the accused need more protections in a world where Candice Jackson, the top civil rights official at the U.S. Department of Education, believes 90 percent of rapes are false accusations.

Schools must continue to use Obama-era guidance as they conduct Title IX investigations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of survivors.

Universities have an obligation to protect students by standing up after years of ignoring campus sexual assault.

Title IX is what needs to be protected, not rapists.

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The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883
Weakening Title IX could hurt University