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Follow Title IX guidelines

Dear Editor:

Recently, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a rollback of strong Title IX guidance regarding campus sexual assault and domestic violence, undermining the rights of victims in a misguided attempt to better protect the rights of the accused.

Previous guidance provided extensive procedural safeguards for the accused, including a recommended appeals process. It ensured a timely resolution of complaints — within 60 days — avoiding a drawn-out legal process further victimizing the survivors. Colleges can respond in ways the legal system cannot, such as class or residence hall changes, suspensions, or expulsions. Changing the burden of proof from a “preponderance of the evidence” to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, used in criminal proceedings, purportedly to protect the rights of the accused, expects campus administrators to act as judicial entities which they are not equipped to be.

Stunningly, Secretary DeVos’ interim guidelines allow for resolving sexual assault complaints through mediation. Sexual assault is NOT a dispute to be mediated — asking victims to ‘work out’ the dispute with their perpetrators — it is an attack on the rights of all women to pursue their education in an environment safe from the threat of violence and intimidation.

Colleges must be held to a set of standards that ensure consistency and fairness for all involved. The solution to an imperfect system is not to remove protections for the vulnerable and victimized.

AAUW Carlisle urges colleges and universities to continue to follow the previous Title IX guidelines which provide meaningful protections for both the accuser and accused while the interim guidelines undergo the formal “notice and comment” period. We will rigorously follow and participate in this process, advocating for the survivors of campus sexual violence and their right to continue their education without the undue burdens of an unfair process.

Nancy Sigrist

Carlisle

AAUW Carlisle—Public Policy Chair

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