Loosened Title IX laws cause national uproar

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Loosened Title IX laws cause national uproar

Many individuals have voiced their opinions against the revocation of Obama-era regulations surrounding Title IX.

Many individuals have voiced their opinions against the revocation of Obama-era regulations surrounding Title IX.

File photo

Many individuals have voiced their opinions against the revocation of Obama-era regulations surrounding Title IX.

File photo

File photo

Many individuals have voiced their opinions against the revocation of Obama-era regulations surrounding Title IX.

Christian Vasquez, Web Editor

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Last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education would revoke the Obama-era regulations around sexual assault found in Title IX, and pivot from protecting the victims to protecting the accused.

“The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students. Survivors, victims of a lack of due process and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved,” DeVos said during a speech at George Mason University.

The announcement quickly drew condemnation from some and support from others.

Former Vice President Joe Bidden wrote on Facebook, “the Department of Education plans to rewrite key Title IX guidance which works to address and prevent sexual assault in our schools is a step in the wrong direction.”

The regulations were aimed at curbing sexual violence on campus. The “Dear Colleague” letter outlining the change was sent in 2011, when women in colleges had a one-in-five chance of being sexually assaulted, according to National Institute of Justice. Currently, that number is around one-in-four chance, according to the NIJ.

One of the regulations that drew the most criticism is the lowering of the threshold of evidence from “clear and convincing standard” to a “preponderance of evidence,” the same standard that protects schools from racial and sexual harassment discrimination.

Critics say that the regulation strips the rights of the accused and creates an environment where people are being falsely accused. So far, no evidence of a rise of false accusations has been found.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a civil rights group that challenged the guidelines in court, wrote in a press release that Obama’s policy “left us with a system that victims still don’t trust and that the accused have every reason to believe is stacked against them.”

But advocates say that the guidelines ensured that sexual assault claims are being treated the same as race and other forms of discrimination and cite the difficulty in definitively proving sexual assault.

“This announcement simultaneously demonstrates a gross negligence for the students. Secretary DeVos has been asked to serve, and a failure to understand the grounds on which their protections stand. We will not accept this blatant favoritism for the rights of rapists under the guise of fairness,” said Annie Clark, executive director of End Rape on Campus.

Only 20 percent of victims report to law enforcement, and of those, 9 percent believed that the authorities could not or would not take action to help.

DeVos has made clear her intentions since July of this year, when she had a number of meetings with those who say they are falsely accused of sexual assault and supporting organizations.

The day before, Candice E. Jackson, a civil rights official in the Department of Education, said “the accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk.’”

When asked how UTEP is preparing for the new guidelines, which DeVos has been clear on since July, Title IX Coordinator Sandy Vasquez wrote in an email, “While we cannot speculate on the impact of policies that are not yet in place, we want to assure our campus community that campus safety at UTEP is very important to us. We work to provide an environment free from discrimination and harassment, and regardless of upcoming changes to Title IX regulations, we will continue educating our UTEP community about Title IX and reviewing every matter promptly. UTEP will continue operating under the current federal guidelines that are in place until further notice from the Department of Education.”

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