Petition: Protect Title IX From Betsy DeVos
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is essential in protecting each student's right to equal access to education and an educational experience free from violence.
Over the last decade, Title IX and its implications have changed drastically, shifting its focus from basic gender equality on sports teams to investigating and eliminating the epidemic of sexual violence in public institutions. In order to change the systems and cultures that perpetuate domestic violence and sexual assault, we strongly believe that the strengthening of Title IX measures--particularly on college campuses--must continue for campus and societal progress. Students and allies have invested in this work, either because they are survivors themselves, know a survivor, or simply believe in justice. We are stronger because Title IX protections exist. We know the law, and the law enables us to ensure that our institutions protect our rights, hold perpetrators accountable, and transform collective society.
We are signing this statement today to convey grave concerns about the Trump administration scaling back the government’s role in enforcing civil rights laws. A seven percent budget reduction proposed for the Office for Civil Rights would force the department to cut approximately 46 jobs at a time when Title IX complaints are on the rise. And in her marginally secured position, Betsy DeVos has instructed Department of Education (DOE) staff to reduce, and perhaps even eliminate, investigations of systemic civil rights issues at public schools and universities, including the mishandling and concealing of sexual assault cases.
This is attack should also be understood in the context of the string of “reforms” Betsy DeVos has introduced since taking up her post. In addition to this latest attack on Title IX, she has fought to cut aid from school programs benefiting working class students, reduce oversight on for-profit colleges, hinder loan forgiveness programs, and reinforce corroded guidance on the rights of LGBTQ students. DeVos policies pose systematic threats and persecution of our nation’s young and most vulnerable. Under her direction, the OCR has been directed to “no longer follow the existing investigative rule of obtaining three (3) years of past complaint data in order to assess a recipient’s compliance.” Without such investigative enforcement, the government and its institutions, including universities, will not be sanctioned to establish patterns of violence, negligence, and civil rights’ violations. If the attacks on the nation’s most vulnerable are systematic, why shouldn’t its protective and investigative measures be systematic?
Betsy DeVos has the power to enforce these Title IX protections and it's up to us to ensure that she does:
-- Maintain the Department of Education’s guidance documents clarifying schools’ legal responsibilities to prevent and address sexual harassment under Title IX
-- Continue to recognize preponderance of evidence as the appropriate standard of proof in campus sexual harassment investigations
-- Maintain federal transparency in Title IX enforcement by continuing to publish lists of schools under investigation for Title IX violations and those who have claimed religious exemptions allowing them to discriminate against LGBT, pregnant, and parenting students
-- Maintain the Department of Education's 2016 guidance documents clarifying schools’ obligations to protect transgender and gender nonconforming students against harassment, bullying, and their rights to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice
As residents of her homestate, we say to Betsy DeVos: We will not be silent. We will continue the fight for civil rights and equal education. And to survivors of sexual assault everywhere: We believe you. We support you. You are not alone.
This petition is meant to be one step in a line of power building efforts to fight for and win equitable education for students across Michigan. We recognize how a failure on the part of universities to support students in preventing and addressing sexual assault on campus can change these learning spaces into hostile environments. We are committed to standing against Betsy DeVos’ attack on education in Michigan and across the country. We will continue this fight throughout the summer, the fall, and into the future.
Michigan Student Power
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