U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Sept. 7 that she wants to implement new regulations on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a statute that prohibits sexual discrimination and protects sexual assault victims. In her speech, DeVos claimed that the system under former President Barack Obama was flawed because it did not do enough for either side in sexual misconduct investigations. She proposed to replace it with a better version that would do more for both survivors and the accused. DeVos stated that the current version of Title IX gives too ambiguous a definition of sexual misconduct and agreed with complaints that this tramples free speech since any accusations, including verbal discrimination, must legally be reported. Also in her address, she gave emotional accounts of accused assaulters considering and even committing suicide over their allegations, and she wanted to empathize with and protect these students. Outside, protestors claimed that she is trying to protect rapists; however, advocates say that she is attempting to work fairly with both sides. DeVos has yet to provide a more detailed plan of how she plans to revise the Title IX law.
Elizabethtown College’s Title IX Coordinator Armenta Hinton, was hesitant to try to form an opinion on the limited information DeVos has given. Hinton stated that she knows that the Secretary of Education wants to roll back the 2011 guidance, but the unknown is her biggest concern. “To be fair, we don’t know what her changes are,” Hinton said. She discussed that DeVos “talked about some pretty extreme cases and eluded to due process.” Etown, Hinton promises, will continue to honor its commitment to providing a learning environment free from sexual assault and discrimination. She also expressed that the College’s pledge is based on moral conscience and is not influenced by politics. Hinton does want to strengthen the system on campus and reduce the incidences of assault and discrimination.
“Jay Talk” Quotes from College Students
“I understand where [DeVos] is coming from, but the way she’s going about it is wrong. I understand making [Title IX} stronger, but not the way she is doing it.” ” -Erin Garrett, sophomore
“I approve of most Title IX policies, but I believe that the preponderance of evidence is not enough in these college cases. There needs to be tangible proof […] just like a criminal case.” -Anonymous Response, Student Poll
“[DeVos] is taking what was created to protect victims and wants to turn so it protects the accused. This is regarding something that isn’t a light topic to be trod on. Survivors of sexual abuse or harassment never get back the same quality of life,” -Emmett Ferree, first-year
““I can see where [DeVos] is saying she wants to protect both accused students and victims.“
-Arielle Cox, first-year
“I believe that Title IX is an extremely vital part of our everyday lives and to take it (or even a portion of it) away would be detrimental to millions of Americans.” -Anonymous Response, Student Poll
“Title IX itself doesn’t need changes, but the knowledge of it [does]. A lot of people don’t know about Title IX or how it works.”-Anonymous Response, Student Poll