HARRISBURG—The U.S. Department of Education will put into effect new rules for Title IX drastically impacting all educational institutions from K-12 to post-secondary regarding sexual harassment, assault and abuse on August 14. The controversial changes to the rules drew over 124,000 public comments many expressing strong concern about how they will negatively affect victims of campus sexual assault and discourage them from coming forward.
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) cautioned against these changes last year—and reiterates our serious concerns today—that these rules will make campuses less safe and reduce institutional accountability.
Concerns raised by PCAR centered on the importance of maintaining trauma-informed policies—which benefit all students—and progress in prevention.
Title IX of the 1972 civil rights law requires schools receiving federal funding to promptly and equitably respond to reports of sexual violence. This led to the creation of offices on schools to take the role of processing complaints, investigation and administrative proceedings for adjudication based on their policies. The rules that will be in effect when the 2020 school year begins this fall alters how these offices will operate moving forward.
We are deeply disappointed by Sec. Betsy DeVos’ decision to move forward with the proposed Title IX changes,” PCAR CEO Karen Baker said. “As 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, we must recognize just how prevalent assaults are — and remember that most sexual assaults are not reported. PCAR encourages the secretary to reconsider policies that are more cognizant and supportive of the trauma victims experience and encourage them to come forward.”
PCAR and sexual assault centers across the state encourage all school administrators to continue being strong leaders in advocating for respectful cultures on and off campus; work with your local sexual assault center to create victim-centered policies; support victims and strive to prevent sexual harassment, abuse, and assault.
We encourage anyone interested in forging a collaboration to continue making campuses safer and more respectful to reach out to a local center through our website at www.pcar.org.
PCAR works to end sexual violence and advocates for the rights and needs of sexual assault victims. We partner with a network of rape crisis centers to bring help, hope, and healing to people in all of the Commonwealth’s 67 counties. Last year, rape crisis centers provided services to approximately 30,000 victims. Each year, rape crisis centers teach over 300,000 Pennsylvanians how to stop sexual violence in their communities. Over 50,000 professionals are trained by rape crisis centers to enhance the Commonwealth’s systemic responses to victims.