In the last year, Betsy DeVos has been changing regulations in public schools around the country. She has recently begun to try to reverse Title IX, putting survivors of sexual assault on campus in danger. Title IX is not just the law created to stop discrimination in sports, it also covers survivors of sexual assault. Publicly-funded universities and high schools are required to support survivors of sexual assault and help them stay in school. This could mean helping them change classes or expelling the perpetrator.
Betsy DeVos met with “men’s rights” activist groups like the National Coalition For Men and Families Advocating For Campus Equality. Both of these organizations focus on protecting people who have been falsely accused of sexual assault. Betsy DeVos is trying to reverse Title IX back 40 years in order to protect those who have been hurt by false sexual assault accusations.
Sexual assault false reports are about 3% of all reports, a somewhat average or below average percentage for most felonies. False reports can include fines and jail time, but also make it harder for survivors of sexual assault to come forward. It is estimated that under 40% of these crimes are reported. This is due to the shame and victim blaming that can happen after a survivor has spoken out.
If someone is reported for plagiarism, they may face more serious consequences than for sexual assault, and the person who reports it wouldn’t be asked what they were wearing.
Reporting a sexual assault can be traumatizing for survivors and if schools are not there to support survivors, it makes it even more unlikely that people will be willing to come forward. Schools need to be held responsible for protecting students and making sure that they feel safe on campus. If a case goes to trial and the rapist is convicted, survivors may face cyber bullying, victim blaming and retaliation from the perpetrator.
Even though the system is flawed, if Title IX is cut completely, this would make it almost impossible for students to come forward and it would help normalize sexual assault culture on campus. Giving survivors a voice and having an institution tell them that they are not alone can positively impact their healing process.
Calling senators and congressional representatives and telling them to stand with Title IX or donating to organizations like PAVE, RAINN or Know Your IX, who teach students and communities about their rights under Title IX, can help this cause. Actively educating yourself and your community about real life issues like this and understanding how rape myths can impact survivors speaking out can help change the stigma that surrounds sexual assault. Lastly, remember that even if Title IX is reversed, that does not mean that schools should not be a safe place. Advocating for survivor rights and creating a culture of consent is the first step for justice.