Changes to Title IX unentitle victims to justice


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Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos plans on making changes to Title IX, which will impact how sexual assault claims are handled by schools.

MIrabelle Chernick

As politicians, corporations and Hollywood grapple with how to address sexual harassment, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has proposed some changes of her own that would affect both colleges and students all over the country.

The previous administration felt that sexual harassment and rape incidents on college campuses were not being handled appropriately or fairly while the current administration believes that the implemented practices have become too rigid and regulatory.

Six years ago the U.S. Department of Education, under President Barack Obama’s administration published a 19 page document titled “the Dear Colleague Letter,” mandating all colleges that rely on governmental funding to take purposeful action against sexual violence.

College campuses are faced with sexual harassment and rape accusations at an increasing rate in recent years. As high school students, college is near and if altered as DeVos plans, Title IX will affect students for better or for worse.     

“DeVos has little experience in managing schools. She is unfit for her position and her policies will only hurt students,” senior Mabel Aceves said.

At this point in time, DeVos has yet to establish anything concrete. The closest she’s gotten is her announcement that there will a “notice-and-comment” process in which individuals are encouraged to voice their thoughts and opinions on potential changes.

Among the publicized supporters of DeVos’ Title IX agenda is California Gov. Jerry Brown.

“Students, guilty or not, must be treated fairly and with the presumption of innocence until the facts speak otherwise. Depriving any student of higher education opportunities should not be done lightly, or out of fear of losing state or federal funding,” Brown said in a statement on Oct. 21.

According to DeVos, the current system is a failure.But with this same incident, advocates of the “Dear Colleague Letter” inspired system argue that examples such the USC incident is precisely why Title IX policies are so essential. The system was initiated to protect the victims, especially when they are unable or unwilling to protect themselves.

Since 1972, Title IX has mandated that, ”No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

Officially, the original Title IX directive of battling educational discrimination based on a student’s sex is still the purpose yet in our current era, any mentionings of Title IX signifies sexual conduct, or lack thereof, on educational campuses.

In simpler terms, this policy primarily concerns sexual harassment and rape in an educational setting. Although sexual abuse is undoubtedly more prevalent on college campuses, Los Angeles Unified School District has their own set of procedures.

In a phone interview, LAUSD Uniforms Complaints Procedures Coordinator Joseph Green, Ed.D. conveyed that numerous complaints are filed to the district through two methods: by informal means such as a phone call as well as the formal process through an official letter.

“The policies are strictly enforced. Any complaints that are filed are thoroughly investigated and corrective actions are put into place,” Green said.  “It’s important for students to feel comfortable and for them to know that school staff can and will help them address their concerns.”