Secretary Betsy DeVos announced on Wednesday that the U.S. Education Department had completed the changes to campus sexual assault rules, Title IX. This change will alter the rights of the accused in a sexual assault case, in which it will replace the policies that deny the rights of accused students.
These new rules narrow sexual harassment, which would only include misconduct that is “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” resulting in denial of access to school educational programs for the victim. Dating violence, domestic violence and stalking are added to the definition of sexual harassment with this policy alteration.
Equal access to evidence found in a school’s investigation is the reason behind the change to the Title IX policy. An advisor, or lawyer, can also be brought to the proceedings. The new policy will also allow students to question each other during hearings through representatives.
Many are calling for the policy to be enacted after the coronavirus pandemic due to schools adapting to the changes created by the virus.
In a statement, Fatima Goss Graves, the National Women’s Law Center’s president and CEO, responded with “If this rule goes into effect, survivors will be denied their civil rights and will get the message loud and clear that there is no point in reporting assault… We refuse to go back to the days when rape and harassment in schools were ignored and swept under the rug.”