The main issue stems from how these crimes are reported. It is already hard to get victims to come forward and express what happened to them, due to a history of being gaslit and dismissed. However, under the Title IX rules, there was at least someone that they could go to and feel like they had a friend in the matter.
Now with new changes being proposed, a lot of people are worried about how this might affect sexual assault victims. For instance, the regular Title IX coordinator will be let go, and replaced with a team of 8 teachers and faculty. As Mary Ann Baenninger, President of Drew University stated: “with this distributed model, there will be more people who will be able to offer a knowledgeable approach that will help our whole community.”
However, many people are not happy with it. They believe that with this model, it will become far easier for the school to be able to cover their behinds. It is also possible that teams like this can be very intimidating to victims, causing many to not come forward due to fear of judgment and harassment.
Not only can this be detrimental to college students, but can even harm students before they even set foot in a high-school. As Dr. Joel Levin, the co-founder of a group called Stop Sexual Assault In Schools states:
“In K-12 students, sexual harassment and sexual assault are already vastly underreported. This is just going to compound the problem.”
With kids being forced to be in school for 7-8 hours a day, harassment and bullying is something that needs to be addressed quickly. This is why changes that alter how students come forward can be extremely detrimental
Nobody is happy
Devos released these new roles back in November of 2018, but kept them open for public comment for 60 days. January 30th was the last day of the comment period, and during that short time, it has received over 100,000 comments.
Students filled the comments with concerns, as well as teachers, professors, and even universities themselves. Harvard themselves have posted comments criticizing the Title IX changes, utilizing the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts and the Association of American Universities.
One of the groups at Harvard wrote a comment, stating:
“Title IX is civil law and not criminal law, because the maximum punishment schools may implement is a requirement to withdraw, not the stripping of civil liberties…At Harvard, many students also turn to Title IX because they do not wish to endure the traumas of a criminal investigation; they merely seek sufficient remedy that they may finish their educations.”
Yet, as time goes on, it is likely that DeVos’ plan will be enacted. But there is hope that these changes will not cause as big of a negative impact as people believe that it might.