Former Vice President Joe Biden blasted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ plan to rescind sexual assault reporting procedures on college campus.
“Sexual assault is the ultimate abuse of power, and its pernicious presence in our schools is unacceptable,” Biden wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday.
“Policies that do not treat this epidemic with the utmost seriousness are an insult to the lives it has damaged and the survivors who have worked so hard to make positive change.”
“Students have taken on this fight,” Biden continued. “Keep fighting. Tell this administration that we refuse to go backwards.”
Biden’s comments come after Devos said she intended to rework Title IX guidelines established in 2011, a process she called a “failed system.” Although details surrounding the rollback remain unclear, DeVos said they had begun the “extended” process.
Under Title IX, sexual violence on college campuses were categorized as gender discrimination.
The Obama administration significantly expanded the guidelines, a move that was praised by various victim-advocacy groups. The changes meant that federally funded educational institutions would be subject to penalties if they failed to meet Title IX guidelines. Critics of the expansion claimed that the policy lowered the bar for the victim’s burden-of-proof and was a significant judicial overreach.
Biden has been a staunch advocate for sexual-assault prevention, launching a campaign and giving several speeches at colleges on the subject.
“We will have succeeded when no woman who is abused ever instinctively asks the question, ‘What did I do,'” Biden said at George Mason University in April.
Read Biden’s entire statement:
In recent weeks, all around the country, parents dropped their children off at college. They’re worrying about whether they will make friends, how they will do in their classes, if they will be happy. And in the back of every parent’s mind, they’re also worrying, “Will my daughter be alright?” They may not know the statistics: that one in five women will be sexually assaulted during her college career. One in five. And for transgender and bisexual women, it’s even worse: one in four transgender students experience sexual assault in college. For bisexual students, it’s one in three. They may not know those statistics, but deep down, they know.
It’s inexcusable. It’s unacceptable. It has to stop.
Today’s announcement that the Department of Education plans to rewrite key Title IX guidance which works to address and prevent sexual assault in our schools is a step in the wrong direction. The truth is, although people don’t want to talk about the brutal reality of sexual assault, especially when it occurs in our most cherished institutions, it is our reality, and it must be faced head-on. And any change that weakens Title IX protections will be devastating.
Sexual assault is the ultimate abuse of power, and its pernicious presence in our schools is unacceptable. Policies that do not treat this epidemic with the utmost seriousness are an insult to the lives it has damaged and the survivors who have worked so hard to make positive change. And sexual assault has lasting effects on survivors: as many as one-third of rape victims may develop post-traumatic stress disorder, and even more experience other long-term physical and mental health effects. It is a life-altering tragedy.
I’m asking everyone who has a stake in this fight to step up. Students, parents, faculty, alumni. Don’t just sit and watch. Speak up. Any rollback of Title IX protections will hurt your classmates, your students, your friends, your sisters. Make your views known.
I know that we can continue to change the culture. I’ve seen it as I’ve travelled to campuses in every corner of the country over the past few years, talking to thousands upon thousands of students about the It’s On Us campaign. Students have taken on this fight. Keep fighting. Tell this administration that we refuse to go backwards.
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