Trouble for Title IX

Featured Opinion Opinion

By Breanna Miller

In 2018, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed changes to the administrative law regulating Title IX.  The suggested changes to Title IX are meant to help protect accused offenders. However, with these changes come problems for victims.

It is absurd to help the accused at the detriment of victims. More than 90% of college sexual assault victims will never report the crime. Reporting rates are already low for sexual assault, but once you look at the purposed changes, the number of crimes that are reported might drop even lower.

Title IX was created with the intent to promote equal opportunity; however, two major changes threaten that ideology. By restricting the location of assault occurrences and narrowing the scope of what is considered sexual harassment, we allow the exploitation of victims.  In theory, the changes are meant to protect the offender but at what cost?

As a Resident Assistant and former Title IX victim, I see so many complications that will come with these changes.

The first change limits the scope of the location in which sexual assaults occur, limiting the responsibility of universities. Instead of the general scope, the new change would make it to where the event must occur on campus. With this change, a student that experiences sexual assault or any type of violence covered under the policy would not be protected if it occurred off campus.

As someone who has had friends who have been raped at off-campus functions hosted by student organizations, that troubles me greatly. By doing this, students would be denied the protections and acknowledgments that may aid in their healing process.

The other big change narrows the scope of what is considered sexual harassment. Currently, the definition is much more open, leading to investigations regarding unwelcomed conduct of any sexual nature. The open scope allows all cases to be investigated and goes through a process of analysis to determine the severity is unclear.

However, with the purposed changes, the sexual conduct must be based solely on sex and must be “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive” to where a victim has no access to their education program or activity. By limiting the scope, a victim’s discomfort will no longer matter. If the change is implemented, what will matter will be determined by whether the incident was blatantly grotesque in nature.  

For these reasons and more, I don’t believe these changes will help but will instead cause only more harm.