Betsy DeVos Annonces Roll Back of Title IX Regulations, Shows She Doesn't Understand Title IX

By: Kaitwan Jackson

Thursday at George Mason University, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos once again gave a controversial speech. This time, she focused on issues surrounding Title IX sexual assault cases. Her speech was met with support from those wrongly alleged of sexual assault (mainly men's rights activist groups), but disbelief from survivors of sexual assault.

DeVos, photo via  Reuters

DeVos, photo via Reuters

Title IX was enacted in 1972, and is now a symbol of the freedoms available within federally funded educational institutions. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, and also prohibits institutions from not pursuing justice in cases of alleged sexual violence. Under the Obama administration, Title IX underwent policy strengthening in response to numerous institutions wrongfully handling cases of sexual assault. Violations of Title IX can result in the rescinding of federal funding to institutions, and this has prompted change in how universities handle sexual violence.

DeVos is seeking to dismantle the increased strengthening included by the Obama administration, in an effort to protect those accused of committing acts of sexual violence. During her speech DeVos remarked, “every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not pre-determined.” Addressing the issue that many inistutions have shown bias toward the alleged victim, and as a result the alleged perpetrator is not offered full transparency. Leading to wrongful indictments, that lead to students being expelled from their institution among other unjust actions.

The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has noticed many reports of sexual violence are made due to hard feelings between the reporter. These falsified reports have had harsh effects on the futures of those accused of these actions. DeVos’s change would seek to change the way cases of sexual violence are handled by institutions, so that both parties are given diligent respect.

However, many see DeVos as having the wrong idea of Title IX, and the Obama administration’s strengthening of it. DeVos has shown strong feelings that the current system to evaluate sexual assault ignores the rights of the accused. But, Title IX’s purpose is not to force institutions to determine a culprit, the institutions are the ones that create the final decision in these matters.

Sexual violation is no easy matter to handle. The ramifications of simply being accused affect students in a plethora of ways, from altering their status at the institution, to safety on campus, to attitude changes from those aware of the incident. Add in the possibility of wrongly being accused, and a student could wrongfully be expelled from their institution, and also acquire a criminal charge. The current system used to evaluate and discern a decision in matters of sexual violence may need work, but holding institutions less accountable may worsen the problem. 

Kayla PasacretaComment