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.