Week 22: RAINN

Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education are planning to roll back Obama-era Title IX guidance regarding sexual assault on college campuses. DeVos states that too many students have been wrongfully accused and treated unfairly. Candice Jackson, civil rights head at the Department of Education, said that “90 percent of sexual assault cases 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 later apologized for the remarks and said she is a survivor of sexual assault herself. The 2011 guidance outlined how federally-funded colleges must meet their obligations to prohibit sexual discrimination to comply with Title IX. This guidance includes publishing clear procedures, employee training, prompt responses to accusations, an equitable complaint process for accuser and accused, and protection against retaliation for those who report an assault. We believe that the civil rights chair at the Department of Education should not be dismissing the stories of student sexual assault survivors. If you agree with us, here is a petition you can sign demanding that Candice Jackson be fired.

This week we donated to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. RAINN reports that 11.2% of all college students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, and that only 20% of 18-24 year old female student victims report the assault to law enforcement. The organization states they have helped 2.5 million people since 1994, including over 175,000 in 2016 alone. RAINN provides Victim Services, Public Policy, and Public Education via news and truthful storytelling through the entertainment industry and survivor spokespeople. Victim’s Services includes a 24/7 hotline available in multiple languages. In 2016 they spearheaded the Justice for All Reauthorization Act which increased the use of DNA evidence to solve thousands of open rape cases.

We believe that it is crucial to protect victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and to promote a culture on college campuses where everyone feels respected, valued and safe. The 2011 guidance on how federally-funded colleges must meet their obligations to prohibit sexual discrimination is a step in the right direction; DeVos and Jackson are willingly turning a blind eye on victims of sexual assault and are moving our college campuses backwards when it comes to equality, justice and safety. The Department of Education is meant to educate students to help them live happy, healthy and productive lives. DeVos and Jackson should be champions for student victims of sexual assault, not dismissive of them. Now more than ever, the important work done by RAINN is a lifeline for countless individuals, and we are proud to support their work this week.