Rep. Susan Davis Leads Call to Urge Secretary DeVos to Strengthen Policies to Address Campus Sexual Assault and Protect Title IX

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Washington, DC, July 25, 2017 | comments

Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education, led a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos expressing concern about actions to undermine policies to address campus sexual assault under Title IX.  The letter, signed by more than 50 members of the House, urges Secretary DeVos to work with Congress to strengthen Title IX protections.

“We were dismayed by the recent interview in which Acting Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Candice Jackson, said that almost all sexual assault investigations fall into the category of drunken mistakes or bad breakups. These comments undermine the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses. A 2015 survey found that one in four women at a number of leading universities experienced sexual assault while in college.”

“Politics aside, all parents want their children to feel safe at school. We hope you will work with us to achieve this goal.”

The full text of the letter is below:

The Honorable Betsy DeVos

Secretary of the Department of Education

Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary DeVos:

We are writing to express our concern that the Department of Education is undoing critical progress on enforcement of Title IX. This landmark law prohibits all sex discrimination in education and directs schools to establish procedures for handling cases of sexual assault.   

We were dismayed by the recent interview in which Acting Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Candice Jackson, said that almost all sexual assault investigations fall into the category of drunken mistakes or bad breakups. These comments undermine the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses. A 2015 survey found that one in four women at a number of leading universities experienced sexual assault while in college.

Many survivors are afraid to come forward for fear no one will believe them or that they will be blamed. Instead of allaying these fears, Ms. Jackson’s comments reinforce them. It is appalling to hear anyone engage in such blatant victim blaming, especially when coming from the person charged with protecting our students from sexual assault. It is important she apologized. Unfortunately, the apology seems hollow given recent actions by the Department of Education to undermine Title IX.

Under your leadership, the Department of Education has weakened the Office of Civil Rights, the agency responsible for enforcing Title IX protections. Despite public statements of support for Title IX, the Department has cut the Office’s resources and rolled back crucial guidances.

Politics aside, all parents want their children to feel safe at school. We hope you will work with us to achieve this goal. If you are serious about addressing campus sexual assault, we ask that you start by denouncing these comments. We also ask that you continue to meet with survivors of sexual assault and their families to better understand the impact of Title IX, and consider policy changes that strengthen the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and its enforcement of Title IX. We look forward to your response articulating support for these protections.   

Regards, 

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Tags: Education

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