A.G. Schneiderman Calls On Secretary Devos To Maintain Protections For Survivors Of Campus Sexual Assault
In Letter to DeVos, 20 AGs Express Concern Over Reported Rollbacks In Vital Title IX Protections
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently joined a coalition of 20 Attorneys General to send a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos expressing their concern over reports that the Department of Education is preparing to roll back important protections for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses and urging her to keep these protections in place. The Attorneys General also called on Secretary DeVos to work collaboratively with them to take action to end the scourge of sexual violence on our campuses.
“It would be unconscionable to roll back the Title IX guidance that protects the victims of sexual assault,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “Secretary DeVos and the Trump administration must ensure student safety and send a clear message: sexual assault has no place on our campuses – or anywhere.”
Incidents of sexual assault on college campuses are widespread. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that, on average, 20.5 percent of college women had experienced sexual assault since entering college, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in five women experienced sexual assault in their lifetimes. However, the vast majority of these incidents go unreported. According to a study from the American Association of Universities, reporting rates for some types of assaults were as low as five percent, in part due to survivors’ concerns about coming forward.
The Department of Education’s current guidance was first issued in 2011 and later clarified in 2014. The guidance instructs colleges on how they must address sexual assault incidents under Title IX. These steps include appointing a Title IX coordinator, requiring mandatory reporting by responsible school officials, and implementing procedures for handling investigations and hearings.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Title IX tracker, as of July 9, 2017 there have been 408 investigations of colleges for their handling of reports of sexual violence 64 of those have been resolved and 344 remain open.
Of particular concern to the Attorneys General were the comments from Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson, who claimed that 90 percent of campus sexual assault allegations “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.’”
The letter reaffirmed the Attorneys General’s commitment to working collaboratively with Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education to address the problem of sexual assault, including suggesting the Secretary engage with a bipartisan group of Attorneys General and other stakeholders to discuss collaboration.
The letter was led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, and signed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, Delaware Attorney General Matthew Denn, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan, and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.
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