Wilkes Admins. discuss Betsy DeVos’s Title IX criticism

Cabrini Rudnicki, News Editor

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Recent talks of changing sexual assault policies has been sparking reactions from both sides of the political spectrum, leading to confusion.

On Sept. 7, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the department plans to review current Title IX policies, specifically changes the Obama administration brought on campus assault in the form of a Dear Colleague letter. Students and faculty of universities around the country have been watching the media closely for news of change.

Devos argued in a speech at George Mason University that the current campus sexual assault system failed to provide due process for the accused.

“The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students. Survivors, victims of a lack of due process and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved,” remarked Devos.

The Dear Colleague letter released by the Obama Administration in 2011 outlined guidelines for universities to use for sexual assault. The memo focused on the concern that universities have not been taking the issue seriously enough, and have not been properly investigating reports.

Although DeVos has not announced exactly what the administration plans on changing, it has not kept students and faculty from speculating.

Associate Dean of Student Development Dr. Philip Ruthkosky theorized the possible alterations that could be coming in the future.

“Will it be a total Dear Colleague letter elimination and start from fresh? Or will it be certain pieces of the letter that we change? I’m not sure, but change is coming. We just aren’t sure exactly what it’s going to look like.”

Ruthkosky also reassured students worried for the future of the university’s sexual assault standards.

“Regardless with what happens, with the secretary and the changes that are coming, for me, it should not and will not fundamentally change how we approach sexual assault education efforts.”

Samantha Hart, the Title IX coordinator, commented on the issue of due process for people involved in sexual assault.

“We want to ensure that all of our students, the accuser and the accused, that both students are getting a full, thorough and impartial process.”

Although no change has been officially announced, those paying attention to social media might have noticed a reaction from people across the country.

On campus, Rahmire Jones, a freshman mechanical engineering major, strongly agreed with DeVos’ opinion, relating the issues to something that happened to his high school.

“I don’t think they [the accused] are treated fairly, because I had an incident in my school last year, where a student accused one of the teachers of raping her. And they just like fired him!”

Hart also spoke on the strong opinions from students, remarking that the outrage was understandable.

“I certainly understand the outrage, and I think there should be outrage, I think that’s the way we get things get done. We’ve come a long way from 1972 when the law [Title IX] was put into effect, but we also have a long way to go.”

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