Murray Urges DeVos Not to Undermine Campus Sexual Violence Survivors, Instead Suggests Steps DeVos Should Take to Support and Protect Survivors
Reports suggest Secretary DeVos may roll back protections provided to campus sexual assault survivors under Title IX, the education gender equality law
Murray instead suggests DeVos take steps to increase protections and support for survivors, and increase transparency of civil rights violations on campus
(Washington, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a list of suggested steps U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos should take to protect survivors of campus assault. According to reports, Secretary DeVos is expected to roll back parts of Title IX, the education gender equality law, that provides survivors of campus sexual violence with the support and tools they need to receive justice on campus. Instead of continuing a pattern of undermining survivors’ rights, Senator Murray is suggesting Secretary DeVos use this speech as an opportunity to start standing up for students with six simple steps:
- Confirm that she will continue to make public a list of schools with open civil rights investigations related to sexual violence reports, to raise awareness about the epidemic of campus sexual assault and encourage schools and universities to take complaints seriously.
- Reverse course and announce that she will continue to maintain the current guidance provided in an Obama Administration-era Dear Colleague letter that directs schools on investigations of campus sexual assault. The standard of proof guidance provided in the letter has led to more women and men coming forward about their sexual violence experiences.
- Confirm that she has listened to survivors and advocates and reverse the guidance for the Office for Civil Rights to scale back systematic investigations that help combat epidemic of campus sexual assault.
- Announce that she will stop undermining the Office for Civil Rights and stop using a lack of staffing or resources as an excuse to close Title IX investigations. There is bipartisan support in the Senate for the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and if more resources are needed to do the job, Secretary DeVos shouldn’t be asking for cuts.
- Make it clear that she will listen to survivors of campus sexual assault, take their claims seriously, and work to provide them with support they need to seek justice.
- Announce that she will finally remove Candice Jackson as Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and nominate a qualified individual to go through an open and transparent vetting process by the U.S. Senate.
“With an Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights who blamed sexual assaults on alcohol and regret and a President with his own concerning history on the issue, it’s clear Secretary DeVos could use some suggestions on how to combat the epidemic of campus sexual violence,” said Senator Murray. “Our schools and universities should be doing everything they can to support survivors and help them seek justice, so I hope Secretary DeVos does the right thing and starts standing up for students and survivors on college campuses across the country.”
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