In the latest attempt to ramp up pressure on the Biden administration to overhaul regulations on how schools deal with sexual misconduct, the advocacy group Know Your IX released a 37-page report Monday describing hardships students say they’ve experienced after filing Title IX complaints.
The report, based on testimonials from 107 students who reported sexual violence to their schools over the past decade, described students dropping out of college, feeling suicidal and facing threats of defamation lawsuits from the accused. Two students said their attackers hired a private investigator to track them, while two others described developing chronic nervous system disorders from the stress of their assaults and the school investigations.
Know Your IX’s report highlights what victims’ rights advocates see as urgent and long-standing problems with how sexual assault victims are treated on campuses. The group is calling on the Department of Education to reverse changes to Title IX rules spearheaded by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, which gave more protection to accused students. The group is also demanding that the Education Department provide resources to ease the physical and financial toll students face after a sexual assault.
“Student survivors need immediate action on Title IX. What seems like just a few months to nonstudents is an entire semester for a student,” said Sage Carson, manager of Know Your IX. “Survivors can’t spend another semester, let alone another four years, with the current status of the Title IX regulation.”
President Joe Biden’s pick for education secretary, Miguel Cardona, was just confirmed two weeks ago, and there’s already a growing clamor from victims’ advocates, civil rights groups and Democratic members of Congress demanding a quick overhaul of the Trump administration’s Title IX regulation.
Cardona sworn in as secretary of education
The regulation, issued under the gender equity law Title IX, governs how schools taking federal funding must handle sexual misconduct cases involving the nation’s 56 million K-12 students and 20 million college students. The rules, which DeVos called a signature achievement of her tenure as education secretary, give accused students more avenues to defend themselves, restrict how a school can investigate sexual assault allegations, and limit schools to only investigating incidents that happen at school or as part of a school activity.
Last week, Biden signed an executive order directing Cardona to review the Title IX regulation and explore rewriting it. On the same day, a group of high school students from Berkeley, California, sued the federal government demanding a court wipe out several Title IX changes implemented by DeVos. And earlier this month, 115 members of Congress signed a letter to Cardona urging him to respond to lawsuits challenging the validity of the regulation by putting the rule on hold, and issue interim guidance while the government starts a new rulemaking https://maxloan.org/payday-loans-sc/ process.
The Education Department has not said what it plans to do regarding Title IX, other than a top civil rights appointee writing last week that “Over time, we will create opportunities for all who are interested to share their views” on sexual harassment policies. Cardona tweeted in response to the executive order: “It is my responsibility to ensure that educational institutions provide appropriate support for students to ensure a safe learning environment for them to grow and thrive.”
Activists increase pressure on Biden to scrap Betsy DeVos’ Title IX rules
Any attempt to scale back the Trump administration’s changes is likely to face resistance from defenders of accused students who say the new rules – including the right to a hearing with cross-examination through a third party, the ability for students to see all the evidence compiled and the presumption of innocence at the outset of an investigation – are essential due process protections.