SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The United States Secretary of Education made a long-awaited announcement about potential changes to Title IX Thursday.
Title IX is a landmark civil right prohibiting sex discrimination in schools since 1972 and outlines protocol for dealing with sexual assault on campus. Title IX applies not only to college students but also K-12 classes.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos quickly flipped focus from sexual assault victims to the accused Thursday.
“One rape is one too many. One assault is one too many,” DeVos said. “One person denied due process is one too many.”
DeVos referenced the Obama administration’s guidelines, known as the “Dear Colleague” letters, which she has long criticized as falling short of providing due process.
The Missouri State University Title IX Coordinator, Jill Patterson, explains what Obama’s guidance means on campuses close to home.
“The ‘Dear Colleague’ letters, in this instance, are giving us, what they refer to as guidance. Like, here’s the way you should be working on this issue of Title IX, here’s who it should apply to, here’s what you should do if these are the people involved,” Patterson said.
There was speculation DeVos would get rid of the Obama-era guidelines altogether, as MSU sophomore Brooklyn Enger is well-aware.
“I know Betsy DeVos or whatever was going to try to take it away,” Enger said.
Instead, she’s launching a public comment period before issuing federal regulations. No matter the details, the regulations will have harsher implications than the current guidance.
Patterson said it’s not her job to choose sides, rather to know the details of Title IX.
“For me to be studied on what the rules are and apply them fairly so that we can be just and help the students, faculty, and staff who are having issues,” Patterson said.
Title IX knowledge can also be proactive in preventing those issues, like student Alex Jones has learned about.
“They do a lot of seminars with fraternity and sorority life, and it really gives people a way to feel safe on campus,” Jones said.
Democratic U.S. Senator for Missouri Claire McCaskill has spoken out against Republican DeVos’ views on Title IX in the past.