“Syracuse-Post Standard: NY Attorney General Urges Feds to Keep Protections for College Sexual Assault Victims”
July 21, 2017
As published by The Syracuse-Post Standard, on July 20, 2017.
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has joined a nationwide group urging U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to keep federal protections for college sexual assault victims.
Schneiderman and 19 other attorneys general today sent DeVos a letter spelling out their concerns over reports that Department of Education is planning to roll back Title IX guidance issued under the Obama administration.
The letter comes on the heels of comments made by Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson.
In an interview with The New York Times previewing plans to roll back current guidance, Jackson said 90 percent of campus sexual assaults 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.”
Jackson has since issued an apology.
The attorneys general acknowledge the apology in their letter, but say the comments have already signaled to survivors that their concerns are not taken seriously by this administration.
The state lawyers say they have doubts about whether Jackson can be trusted to oversee this area.
DeVos has held a series of “listening sessions” on the topic of sexual assault since the reports first surfaced.
Last week, she met separately with groups of sexual assault survivors and people who said they were falsely accused of sexual violence on campus.
In their letter, the attorneys general say they recognize the importance of fairness, but worried that a “rushed, poorly-considered effort to roll back current policies sends precisely the wrong message to all students.”
The guidance, first issued by the Obama administration in 2011, instructs colleges and universities on how to respond to incidents and reports. It required colleges to appoint a local coordinator and establish clear procedures for investigations and hearings.
Under this guidance, the Department of Education has increased its investigations into colleges’ procedures. The department has initiated 408 of these investigations, 344 of which remain open.