New Title IX rules protect institutions, not students

New proposed guidelines for Title IX focus on protecting institutions, but leave students without resources. 

The Department of Education is changing the rules surrounding sexual assault on college campuses to protect the accused and reduce college’s liability. 

The definition of sexual assault is being changed. Now, schools will only be accountable for formal complaints filed through proper authorities and for conduct said to have occurred on their campuses.

These new Title IX guidelines are a step in the wrong direction at a time when progress needs to be made.

A vast majority of rapes aren’t filed through the proper authorities. 

This is seen at Sonoma State. Ten rapes were reported to the university last year, but hundreds of people reported a history of sexual assault when they visited Counseling and Psychological Services. 

For many reasons, it is difficult for sexual assault survivors to come forward. Whether they know the perpetrator, are afraid of being believed or just want to move on, there are plenty of reasons why someone might not go through the proper channels to report their sexual assault. 

To compensate for the fear sexual assault victims face, colleges need to be proactive in finding the sexual assaulters and removing them from the university. The responsibility can’t fall solely on the victim.

Only holding a college responsible for sexual assaults that occur on campus allows for rapes that are reported as off-campus to be swept under the rug.  Only 37 percent of Sonoma State students live on campus.

 A student is still a student even when they leave Sonoma State property. Just because a student lives off campus doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have access to the same resources that students who live on campus do.

 Universities should be held responsible for sexual assaults off campus too, especially if they involve a student perpetrator and student victim. The culture of Sonoma State doesn’t end where its property does--it extends across Rohnert Park and Cotati, into the neighborhoods where most of its students live.

This new set of guidelines also redefines sexual misconduct and only condemns severe, pervasive and objectively offensive sexual misconduct. This narrow definition would allow for administration to overlook Title IX violations if they do not believe it to meet this new criteria. This will impact those who work, teach and attend Sonoma State. 

Another issue with the new guidelines are that they create a new rule that calls for cross-examination of sexual assault victims. Although this wasn’t previously outlawed, it’s frowned upon due to the potentially traumatic problems associated with questioning an alleged sexual assault victim by asking them to relive their assault. The new rules explains that attorneys must be allowed to submit questions on their behalf for the alleged victim or accused to answer. 

These new rules let colleges off the hook for sexual assault. Laws are needed to force colleges to be proactive in preventing sexual assaults, or else they will do the bare minimum.

Eleven percent of students are sexually assaulted in college, according to the Department of Justice. This is an epidemic of dramatic proportions, and these new rules will only make it worse.

SSU should notify students of all campus rapes

Sonoma State may be able to scrape by the letter of the law with minimal campus-wide communication on sexual assaults and rapes, but it would be false to say that Sonoma State is making student safety its highest priority.    
     The Sonoma State STAR first began investigating rapes that occurred on campus after the 2018 Annual Security Report was released by Sonoma State this October.

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Midterm election is a step towards representation

This midterm election has released record-breaking numbers, allowing for increased representation in both the House and Senate, as well as multiple gubernatorial candidates in the epitome of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.  

Ninety-two women have been elected into the House of Representatives and 10 joining the ranks of the Senate making it a record-breaking 112 female representatives in Congress serving at one time. 

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Student Center misses mark with charging lockers

In October, Sonoma State University released a timely warning crime bulletin detailing a theft of a student’s laptop that occurred in the Student Center. 

The theft sparked concerns, and started a conversation among students and Student Center staff. 

Since the theft, a new accessory has be installed in the student center; a sparkly new charging locker to distract students from the real issues. 

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New bill aims to increase police transparency

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Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills into law, making records of internal investigations by police officers viewable to the public.
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Kavanaugh’s past provokes scrutiny

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When curses come home to roost, often they do so long after the one who cast them has left the farm. Such as when an investigation knocks and retrospect answers. No one is learning this firsthand better than Brett Kavanaugh, former White House Staff Secretary and Supreme Court nominee swimming in hot water after the revelation of sexual assault allegations more than 36 years old. 

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New bill strives for higher renewable energy

California has just passed a bill that will require the state to get its energy solely from renewable resources. This means state operations will produce zero emissions by 2045. This futuristic goal is ambitious, but it sets the right tone. In a nation where emission regulations are regularly being thrown out, the onus is on California, with the largest state economy, to provide an example for the rest of the country to combat climate change.

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Distribution of 3D gun plans sparks security concerns

If the recent epidemic of mass shootings is any indication, America is no stranger to the conversation of gun control.
     In fact, just weeks ago, the average citizen likely believed that every last argument having to do with guns had already been exhausted one way or another. Except, the one where the average citizen starts making his own.

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Prison strike calls for reexamination of system

A Nationwide prison strike began on August 21 in response to a prison fight at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina earlier this year that ended with seven inmates losing their lives.
     With prisoners in at least 17 states participating, this strike has the potential to shed light on the vast room for improvement in the criminal justice system. This 19-day strike will go until September 9 and has been said to include labor and hunger strikes.   

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