Title IX: September 7, 2017

Dear Mr. VP,

“I just start kissing [beautiful women]. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait…And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

If this guy (you know him!) was on a college campus, he’d be the subject of a Title IX sexual harassment investigation. So is it any surprise your administration is poised to overhaul Obama-era Title IX guidance with regards to campus sexual assault and harassment? There will be a public comment period, but I think, given Betsy DeVos’s speech today focused on the failures of the system, and she met with men’s rights activists to discuss the issue, we know what’s going to happen. File this, like the DACA revocation, under “not shocking but still horrifying.”

To be honest, I’m having a hard time even putting into words what I feel right now. Mostly cold and unable to form coherent sentences.

You already know all about Title IX and the 2011 Dear Colleague letter that explains how the Department of Education will handle Title IX complaints, and how sex discrimination complaints should be handled on campuses. If you need a reminder, here’s a really excellent page with all sorts of resources. In short, the Dear Colleague letter requires colleges:

  1. Disseminate a notice of nondiscrimination.
  2. Have a Title IX coordinator.
  3. Adopt and publish a grievance procedure.
  4. Train staff members who address sexual violence complaints.
  5. Respond promptly to complaints.
  6. Notify survivors of their reporting options.
  7. Make the complaint process equitable for accuser and accused.
  8. Protect accusers against retribution.

So, part of me can’t even believe this shit needs to be pointed out as something schools should do. Isn’t this all just obvious? Take accusers seriously. Let people know how to report grievances. Actually respond to them. Have an equitable process. None of this is rocket science, or at least it shouldn’t be.

One in five female college students is sexually assaulted. This Title IX guidance gives survivors a roadmap toward justice. Is it a straight path? No. Are there roadblocks? Yes. Why? Because we live in a patriarchy in which accusers aren’t taken seriously and their motives are constantly questioned. What does all that mean? We need to be strengthening and further codifying measures taken to protect survivors and accusers, not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. 

No, DeVos did not rescind the Dear Colleague letter today. But can you feel it coming? I can. 

Consider this my public comment: a big fuck you to your administration of rapists, rape-apologists, and misogynists.

D

 

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