In November, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed several changes to the Title IX guidelines that govern how colleges handle sexual misconduct claims. These suggested rules would add protections for accused students, while narrowing the definition of sexual harassment and making it more difficult for victims to report assault. But thankfully, there are things you can do to protest these changes to Title IX.
You can leave a comment on DeVos’s proposed policy changes on the Department of Education website until January 28th, 2019. If you’re not sure what to say or need further guidance, It’s On Us has created a handy guide for turning your thoughts into feedback. And Hands Off IX, a partnership between advocacy organization End Rape on Campus and the student-led group Know Your IX, has a template for making sure that every word of your comment counts. According to the Federal Register, government agencies don’t count the number of comments in favor of a new law against the number of comments opposing it. But leaving your thoughts is still useful because, as the Federal Register notes, new data, arguments, and criticisms can cause an agency to rethink its policies.
It’s On Us also released a Dr. Seuss-inspired video about the policy and how to comment, narrated by Alyssa Milano.
Commenting isn’t the only step you can take to oppose the Title IX changes. You can sign an open letter to the Department of Education, which was originally drafted by a group of Harvard community members called Our Harvard Can Do Better. And if you’re interested in hosting an action, you can email Know Your IX directly to learn how.
According to RAINN, 11.2% of all college students experience rape or sexual assault through the use of force, violence, or incapacitation. Meanwhile, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center notes that only 2-10% of sexual misconduct allegations are false, while 63% go unreported. In light of the evidence, we know it’s important to empower survivors; DeVos’s proposed amendments to Title IX do the exact opposite.
Be sure to let DeVos know what you think of her new rules while you still can.