Sexual assault act under revision

Written by Leah Kemple

Title IX is under review, but what is it?
The Department of Education is reviewing Title IX, an equal opportunity act, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced Thursday, Aug. 7 that she intends to make changes protecting sexual assault victims while also having fair hearings for the accused.
So what is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal law that requires equal opportunities for all genders in all aspects of education. The actual act itself states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Okay, what does that mean?
K-12 schools and higher education institutions legally have to respond to any sexual discrimination and assault complaints or reports. This law is intended to protect students from sexual harassment while keeping a safe learning environment free of violence no matter the student’s sex or gender.
Who is Betsy DeVos?
DeVos is the Education Secretary of the United States. She is considering changes to the way sexual assault allegations were handled under the Obama administration. According to an NBC article by Daniella Silva Sept. 3, “DeVos has indicated that she intends to reexamine Title IX enforcement and sexual assault guidance for schools, holding three 90-minute listening sessions with advocates for survivors, representatives of the falsely accused and higher education officials in July.”
DeVos has been vague about the changes that will be made. She stated that the sessions held in July were emotionally draining and that there was still a lot of work to be done on the issue, however, she has not stated the ways in which she plans on doing this work.
What does this mean for UCM?
UCM’s Title IX department is in a holding pattern until DeVos makes the announcement for what changes will be coming. Heather Jennings, a Title IX analyst said UCM will continue to address Title IX complaints according to the current policy and procedures.
“We will review and change them accordingly when we get further directives from the Dept. of Education.  Until that time, while we wait on new regulations, our policy and procedures will remain as they are now,” Jennings said in an email.
The changes will find a way to help not only victims of sexual assault, but also students that are accused of acting violently or sexually harassing others. It is unknown when the announcement will be made, but once it is made, the department will take the new rules and decide on the best ways to implement them.
Why was Title IX created?
According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, Title IX was originally created to give women the opportunities that men were given. A woman named Bernice Sandler worked with Edith Green to draft Title IX after Sandler was treated unfairly at her job. She filed 269 complaints against colleges and universities because a number of women were being replaced with men in the workplace.
There was a lot of discussion about women playing college sports during the creation of the bill, and once it was passed in 1972, there was a 600 percent increase in the number of women that were playing college sports.
What does Title IX do at UCM?
Title IX at UCM provides students with people to talk to if they are the victim of sexual misconduct. UCM has a Title IX coordinator along with a team that is there to assess the situation and help students that have become victims.
“We are very active and pro-active in helping all students and will continue to assist our students, no matter what changes come our way,” Jennings said in an email. “We are dedicated to providing resources and supports to our campus community and assisting students in their individual processes, while keeping our campus safe.”
If you have been the victim of sexual violence, you are encouraged to call law enforcement or use the 24-hour confidential hotline at 660-441-4855. For more information on Title IX at UCM, visit