By Darlene Leal, Reporter
Recently, Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her administration implemented changes to the Title IX and campus sexual assault provisions. Specifically, DeVos is seeking to end specific statutes within Title IX that she and other Trump administration officials believe take away rights from the accused person, including the Obama-era “dear colleague letter.” The letter was originally issued by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to 7,000 federally-funded colleges to inform them of new requirements to allow accusers to appeal cases that ended in a “not-guilty” verdict, as well as discouraging the cross-examination of accusers, according to the Washington Post.
The Department of Education released a Q&A statement that addressed the new changes to the policy in September.
In a late September statement emailed to students, the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Sharon Evans reassured students that Roosevelt would stay committed to serving the best interest of students.
“Because of the direction in which the U.S. Department of Education appears to be headed, Roosevelt University remains concerned and anxious about the outcome of the federal government’s current exercises related to the Title IX law and how it would impact our procedures, as a University, for addressing acts of sexual misconduct,” Evans said in the statement. “Nevertheless, we would like to reassure you that regardless of changes made at the national level, Roosevelt University’s Office of Title IX Compliance will continue to serve our mission to provide an environment that is safe and equitable for all members of our community.”
Roosevelt University’s Title IX Coordinator Alice Jones explained that universities have both overcorrected and under corrected since the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter (DCL).
“Generally, the new guidance forces schools to pay more attention to the rights of the accused to make sure they are getting equitable treatment in the process,” Jones said.
Jamar Orr, the assistant dean of housing and community standards, said that although changes have not been made yet, RU’s top priority is to comply with the law and to investigate Title IX complaints in a fair and thoughtful manner.
Jones said that there will be very subtle changes to the current Title IX policies, minimizing direct impact to RU students.
He continued on to say that RU has done a good job at not over or under correcting.
“I think our process is equitable to all involved parties and we hold ourselves to that. Because of that, we can hold to our processes as we always have,” Jones said.
Jones said they are currently going through revisions to ensure they are in line with the federal guidance.
“More will be revealed about this soon as we finalize it, and we will then share it widely so the RU community is familiar with it.”
Orr said that for the most part, the policies will feel the same because RU protects both students. The only possible change will rely on more complex cases.
“Some cases may take slightly longer to resolve. We are considering extending the timeline from 60 to 90 days,” Orr said. “That will allow the university more time to come to a conclusion on more complex cases.”
Jones wanted the RU community to know if they have any further questions that they can attend their Sexual Respect committee meetings which come together every other Friday at 10 a.m. in room WB 618.
Kaitlyn Greenholt, a political science major, said that she doesn’t agree with DeVos’ change of the Title IX. Greenholt said she believes that it can allow more sexual harassment to take place in universities.
“To change it so the system is protecting them more is doing a lot. It’s making it safer for them to get away with stuff. It’s harder for women,” Greenholt said.
Greenholt also believes giving both parties the same rights will frighten the victim from reporting their sexual harassment and believes the change is awful.