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Validating assault: Why the DeVos’ changes to Title IX are problematic

Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education has rescinded the Obama-era guidance regarding how schools deal with sexual assaults under Title IX.
Although the impact of this decision has yet to be seen, one can only assume that it will be disastrous. Years of fighting to make sure that victims are not blamed for their rape could be all in vain, as these new provisions favor the assaulter.
For years, women have feared coming forward about their sexual assault, knowing that there was a good chance that their attacker would be favored and not get the punishment they deserved. One of the most recent, largely publicized examples of this would be the Brock Turner case, where Turner was charged with three counts of sexual assault, but was still glorified for his swimming successes and only sentenced to six months in jail. This is not a unique case, as it occurs all around the country.
Ms. DeVos seems to be opening the door to continuing to normalize this state of mind. According to NBC News, Alexandra Brodsky, a legal fellow at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) said, “DeVos made ‘false equivalencies between the experiences of survivors and the experiences of accused students’ and ‘misrepresented’ Obama-era guidance.”
This would be an accurate description, given that Ms. DeVos feels that how campuses address assaults have “failed too many students,” namely those accused, and that “schools have been compelled by Washington to enforce ambiguous and incredibly broad definitions of assault and harassment.”
DeVos clearly tends to favor the side of the perpetrator and fails to understand that sexual assault and harassment is such a broad category because it can occur in many forms and ways. Making broad definitions is not meant to be a way to make it impossible for alleged attackers to be proven innocent or as some elaborate master plan to corral freedom of speech. The definitions are broad simply because of the nature of sexual assault and harassment.
Both Ms. Devos and Candice E. Jackson, a civil rights officer at the Department of Education, worked together on reviewing and changing the previsions of campus rape policies. According to Ms. Jackson, “…the accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk, we broke up and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.’”
Ms. Jackson seems to be brushing off these incidents and claims, as if they are not big deal. However, drunk or not, dating or not, rape is rape.
Ms. Jackson has also shown in the past that her view of sexual assault is not clear cut. She went from elevating the women who accused the former president Bill Clinton of sexual assault and harassment, to denouncing the women who accused President Trump of the same behavior. Clearly, her decisions on which sexual assault claims were valid and which were not were based solely on her political affiliations and leanings.
Ms. Jackson has received countless letters from men accused of sexual assault who have lost their scholarships, been kicked off of their sports teams or even expelled as punishment. Ms. Jackson actually sympathizes with these men who have attempted to take away the dignity of another human being. No one should feel upset for the perpetrators. If they have been found guilty of sexual assault, they deserve to be punished. If it ruins their chances at playing sports or being a doctor, so be it. They cannot get let off the hook for their crimes just because they have high aspirations. The women they raped most likely had high aspirations too, and now have to live, day to day, with the mental trauma that comes with rape.
So now, we have women who still will not stand up for women when it comes to sexual assault. We also have men who continue to say that women “asked for it.” It seems like our government refuses to give sexual assault the proper validity.
We must do what we can to stop this trend from spreading, and being on Clemson’s campus gives us the perfect platform to do so. We as students, both men and women, must advocate for victims, promote proper sexual education and Title IX training and not allow our administrators to blame the victims and support the attackers, as our government is proposing. We need to look out for our fellow students and try our best to protect them.

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