Secretary of Education Betsy Devos believes “if everything is harassment, then nothing is.” While it is true that everyone has their own definition and connotation of harassment, DeVos’s statement is not absolute. Harassment is harassment whether it is physical or verbal. DeVos thinks harassment only has one facet when, in reality, there are multitudes.
The Title IX amendment allows victims of sexual assault and harassment on college campuses to report these crimes without repercussions. No one, male or female, should feel too scared or endangered to report sexual misconducts. However, the proposed change to the Title IX amendment threatens to impose that fear. What Betsy DeVos said in her speech last Thursday led people to believe her suggested alterations are simply a political move. However, whether right or left winged, Title IX should not be about politics, but a given right. It is about a human being’s right to protection and justice.
Only 26 percent of sexual assaults are reported to authorities. This number may only reduce if DeVos gets her way with Title IX. In her aforementioned speech, she said she would loosen the so-called reigns on Title IX. However, if loosening the standards means that a sex offender gets off scot-free, that is disastrous. There are cases of misuse of Title IX, but, the just results outweigh the unjust ones, and the scales tip in the favor of Title IX due to the prevalence of successful outcomes.
The success of Title IX is absorbed in its non-disclosure policies. Being a residential life student leader on campus, I have gone through sexual consent trainings and Title IX information sessions. All of these have taught me one very important thing: people are more likely to tell you something if they believe that no one else will listen. Title IX allows for the due process to be done in a discreet manner.
DeVos seems to think that this infringes on the public’s right to know about the sexual assault reports. Many colleges have rejected requests even from newspapers for information on incidents, because they want to protect the identities of those involved in the incident, and this practice is wholly correct. Sexual harassment of any kind is damaging. What happens to my body should be left up to me to disclose to whoever I so choose.
Every policy has its flaws, and Title IX is no exception. However, no one should change a policy simply because they hate the administration that reformed it — this turns sexual harassment into a partisan issue rather than a human rights issue. While change is always required, progressive change is what we need. But a change that would facilitate third party interference into the victims’ lives and sexual assault experience is inhumane. Your body is yours and only yours and, if you feel unsafe, you should have a designated safe space to go to. That is what Title IX has given us and will hopefully continue to give us in the future.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. Email Shraddha Jajal at [email protected]