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Senators Gillibrand, McCaskill push for input from sexual assault survivors before proposed changes to Title IX


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) called on Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the Trump Administration to get additional input from sexual assault survivors prior to releasing its proposed new rule on Title IX. The Administration is expected to release its new rule soon, and according to reports from the past year, Secretary DeVos has prioritized meeting with students accused of sexual assault, and has had limited engagement with survivors or universities who have already implemented policies to improve their responses to complaints of sexual misconduct. Last Friday, the New York Times reported that the new rule could narrow the definition of sexual harassment, which would likely end up limiting the number of claims that meet the standard of sexual misconduct and reducing the amount of assistance available to students in need.

"All students deserve a safe and healthy educational environment, yet the number of sexual assaults at educational institutions remains unacceptably high," the Senators wrote. "Sexual misconduct and violence at educational institutions is a serious matter that can result in a severe negative physical and psychological impact on victims.  We urge you to take the necessary steps to ensure that any proposed rule upholds the civil rights protections for survivors of sexual harassment and assault while holding institutions accountable for student safety.  Further, we request that you delay the release of the proposed rule until your offices have fully engaged with and taken into account the perspective of all stakeholders.  This input is critical to ensuring that any proposed rules regarding Title IX takes into account the needs of survivors and provides clear, streamlined information to institutions to fully investigate and respond to, and prevent future misconduct from taking place."

Gillibrand and McCaskill are the lead sponsors of the bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act legislation to combat sexual violence on college campuses. In May 2018, Gillibrand and McCaskill wrote a letter calling out Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for rolling back Title IX protections and demanding the Department of Education release detailed information on all Title IX cases. Gillibrand and McCaskill’s May letter came following reports that under DeVos’s leadership, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is dismissing civil rights cases that they consider burdensome.

The text of the Senators’ letter is available here.

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