Betsy DeVos revealed her plan last Thursday to reform Title IX, as it has “failed too many students.” After the news dropped, many were left, and are still left, scratching their heads and wondering what this meant.
Title IX is the law that holds colleges and universities who receive federal funding responsible for discrimination on the basis of sex, which can include sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. This law prevents colleges from ignoring sexual assault or harassment.
DeVos was careful to not mention any explicit changes that she had in mind. However, “her remarks focused more heavily on the young men who, she said, were denied due process in campus proceedings,” according to The New York Times.
While DeVos said that every survivor of sexual assault would be taken seriously, she also took the time to say, “every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined,” according to CNN.
This is alarming, because it seems as though the new administration will be more focused on protecting the rights of the accused, instead of the victims of the sexual assault.
DeVos’ rhetoric is unnerving because it would suggest that now, in our current political climate and campus situation, guilt is already predetermined. This would make it seem as though it was easy for students to make accusations, which is hardly the case.
DeVos made her case even more clear when she cherry-picked a case from the University of Southern California where a kicker on the football team was suspended from school and removed from the team after his girlfriend accused him of physical assault. The girlfriend later retracted her accusation.
This rationalization and cherry-picking is disturbing because it suggests that we, as a nation, have gone too far to the “other side,” where we blindly listen to victims who accuse people at random. DeVos’ seems to suggest that the new administration needs to “correct” this injustice, and seeks a return to “law and order.”
But this is hardly true.
There are far more cases of sexual assault and rape not being listened to, when they should have been, then cases of sexual assault charges that were filed based on lies.
This is a dangerous time to be playing with Title IX, when it’s already somewhat flimsy, especially when people’s lives are at stake.
According to RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, 11.2 percent of all student, graduate and undergraduate, experience rape or sexual assault.
That is an incredible statistic and does not even come near to the number of prosecutions made. Only six in every 1,000 people accused of a sex crime are actually prosecuted and end up serving jail time, according to RAINN.
So why would DeVos, a woman, work on behalf of something that doesn’t seemingly help women? Well, she’s working to defend her president’s supporters.
Let me put it into these terms:
According to RAINN, those accused of sexual assault and rape are overwhelmingly male and white, with a resounding 57 percent.
Meanwhile, 62 percent of white males voted for Donald Trump for president.
The Trump administration is well aware of its core constituency, and it is acting on their best interests.
Make no mistake, this decision by DeVos will not benefit any people of color, women or those from the LGBTQ community.
Meanwhile, women in college, between 18-24, are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted, according to RAINN, and sexual violence is more prevalent at colleges compared to other crimes.
Women in college are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted than robbed, and the percentages only get higher for transgendered, genderqueer and non conforming college students, according to RAINN.
This is a real issue, and real people’s lives are at stake.
I’m sure that some people will cry and throw a fit that The Bulletin stands up for “man haters,” but for everyone else? Hold faith that this loud majority who have never experienced a moment of discrimination, outside of their “reverse racism” arguments, do not represent the majority of people in the United States.
As a country, the United States has a lot of things wrong with it. We have racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ageist, ableist laws and policies. We have broken systems that award the most privileged and take away from those who need it most.
But the one hope we do have is the diversity we have in our country. We don’t have proper representation for that diversity, but with every fight, every protest and every act of civil disobedience, we come closer to that equality.
So go out there. Fight. Stand up for what is right and give voice to those who need it.