Activists Pressure Biden to End Trump Campus Sexual Misconduct Rule

Miguel A. Cardona speaks during his confirmation hearing to be Secretary of Education with the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee on Capitol Hill in Washington,DC on February 3, 2021. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANNA MONEYMAKER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Activists representing the interests of alleged survivors of campus sexual misconduct are pressuring the Biden administration to eliminate the Trump-era rule regarding how Title IX complaints are handled.

The activist group called Know Your IX has released a report stating “men’s rights advocates and popular press have insisted that Title IX has forced the pendulum to swing too far in the wrong direction.”

The group claims the Trump administration’s rule “rolled back” the U.S. Education Department’s (USED) “enforcement of survivors’ rights in schools, releasing regulations on Title IX that created special rights for respondents in Title IX cases and made it easier for schools to ignore survivors’ reports.”

The activists claim the effect of the Trump education department’s overhaul of the Obama administration’s rules “led to institutional neglect for survivor safety, a shocking trend of respondents using school disciplinary systems to retaliate against survivors, a weaponization of defamation lawsuits, and high rates of survivor pushout from school.”

In its report, Know Your IX recommends alleged campus sexual misconduct survivors receive supportive measures, including:

… academic accommodations such as extensions on assignments and tutoring, housing and residential accommodations, campus employment accommodations, campus escorts, no-contact orders or persona non grata letters, and transportation arrangements.

The activists say schools should provide on-campus mental health assistance and additional aide from Congress, the USED, and the Department of Justice.

Know Your IX also recommends that “all colleges and universities should be required to have and enforce amnesty policies.”

“Students reporting sexual violence or serving as witnesses in an investigation should never face punishment for alcohol or drug use, consensual sexual conduct, or other conduct violations that do not involve harassment, discrimination, or violence,” the activists say, adding:

The fear of such repercussions deters student survivors and bystanders from coming forward to report sexual harassment, reducing the likelihood that survivors will get the support and safety measures they need to continue accessing their education. Recognizing this reality, the Department must mandate that school districts—like colleges and universities—meaningfully advertise and adhere to amnesty policies in order to comply with Title IX.

The group also insists on restricting the involvement of campus police in school sexual misconduct investigations:

Police act as a symbol of authority and criminality, which often have negative connotations for marginalized survivors who have negative personal and community experiences with the criminal legal system. As many survivors do not feel safe engaging in a process with police, police presence within a Title IX investigation impedes the ability of a school to create a safe educational environment outside of the legal system.

The report comes one week after President Joe Biden issued an executive order “on guaranteeing an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In his order, Biden tasked the USED Secretary Miguel Cardona (pictured), in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney General, to review the Title IX regulation and consider replacing it.

In 2017, former USED Secretary Betsy DeVos revoked the Obama era “guidance” that instituted what she termed “kangaroo courts” on campuses to assess claims of sexual misconduct.

The Trump administration gave significant attention not only to the concerns of students who were alleged victims of sexual attacks, but also to the accused.

“We need to remember that we’re not just talking about faceless ‘cases,’” DeVos said. “We are talking about people’s lives. Everything we do must recognize this before anything else.”

DeVos said the system put into place by the Obama administration had failed both alleged sexual assault victims and the accused. The former secretary addressed the trend the intimidating Obama-era guidance had promoted in which “any perceived offense can become a full-blown Title IX investigation.”

Feminists and LGBT activists condemned the Trump administration for inviting students who had been falsely accused and disciplined for sexual assault under the Obama-era Title IX guidance to be heard in “listening sessions.”

In his campaign’s plan to end violence against women, Biden vowed to “expand survivors’ reporting rights and options on college campuses.”

“Any backstepping on Title IX is unacceptable,” Biden’s campaign stated about the Trump administration’s emphasis on the due process rights of the accused. “The Biden Administration will restore the Title IX guidance for colleges, including the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, which outlined for schools how to fairly conduct Title IX proceedings.”


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