Letter to the Editor: AAUW on Title IX Rollbacks

TO THE EDITOR: Re “DeVos’s Rules Bolster Rights of Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct” (news article, May 7):

In justifying new Title IX regulations regarding accusations of student sexual assault, Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education, said schools are required to “act in meaningful ways to support survivors of sexual misconduct.” In fact, the new rules significantly weaken protections for students and turn back the clock on the welcome progress we’ve started to make in the last decade.

Obama-era Title IX guidance laid out specific procedures on how publicly funded schools must deal with campus sexual misconduct. Since then, we began to see more survivors coming forward to seek justice. Now, in the midst of a national emergency, that guidance has been overturned and replaced with rules that will likely deter reporting of rape, assault and harassment. The new rules are bad enough, but the timing of this change seems hardhearted and ill advised.

Colleges and universities are facing enormous challenges on every front. Students may not return to campus this fall, but schools now have the administrative burden of overhauling their processes before the semester begins. Wouldn’t it be wiser to focus all our efforts on helping academic institutions and their students manage the crisis at hand?

Kim Churches
The writer is chief executive of the American Association of University Women.