What To Do If You’re Livid As Hell Over Betsy DeVos’ Title IX Decision
On Thursday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Trump administration will be reviewing Title IX, the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination on public universities. Although the Obama administration widened Title IX's scope to address campus sexual assault, DeVos strongly implied that her Education Department will be limiting this application of the law. It's unclear exactly what this means, but if you're pissed as hell about DeVos' Title IX plan, there's a lot you can do to help ensure that victims of college sexual assault receive the support they deserve.
Title IX was signed by President Richard Nixon in 1972, and it blocks public schools from receiving federal funds if they engage in gender discrimination. In 2011, the Obama administration announced that it would be applying the law to campus sexual assault as well, with Vice President Joe Biden proclaiming that sexual violence on college campuses "can be a violation of a woman's civil rights."
DeVos didn't announce any substantive policy changes with regard to Title IX. However, she condemned the Obama administration's application of the law, and expressed dismay that those accused of sexual assault on college campuses aren't given due process under the law. DeVos said that the Trump administration will submit proposed changes to the law for public comment, though she didn't say what these changes will consist of.
Nevertheless, it seems that the Trump administration may be taking a softer approach toward campus sexual assault. If you're angry about this — and, um, you should be — here are some things you can do to make a difference and help alleviate the impact of sexual violence on college campuses:
Volunteer At A Sexual Assault Crisis Center
Providing direct help to victims is one of the most important and meaningful actions you can take with regard to campus sexual assault, and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, also known as RAINN, has a comprehensive list of crisis centers that you can volunteer at if you'd like to help provide that help.
Participate In The "Notice-And-Comment" Process
DeVos said that the Education Department will submit proposed changes to Title IX implementation through the "notice-and-comment" process. This means the agency will post the proposed rule changes in the Federal Register, where they'll be open to public comments and input. This will be a great opportunity to make your voice heard.
Presumably, the agency will make an announcement once the proposed changes are posted. If not, you can check here regularly to find out once they are, and let the administration know how you feel about the proposed rule changes — whatever they end up being.
Get Involved With SAFER
SAFER is a nonprofit aimed at combating campus sexual assault from the ground up. It does this by holding workshops, or "teach-ins," for students who want to build anti-sexual assault campaigns on their campuses. Anybody can request a teach-in, and those who attend will learn the nuts and bolts of mobilizing students against sexual assault.
If you're a college student, consider requesting a teach-in at your campus. Alternatively, you can donate to SAFER and help the organization keep doing the great work it's doing.
March On A College Campus
Take Back the Night is an organization largely devoted to increasing awareness and visibility surrounding sexual assault, both on college campuses and elsewhere. It organizes marches, runs, and walks throughout the year, with the goal of empowering victims and educating folks about just how common sexual violence is. Find one of the organization's local event and participate — or better yet, organize your own!
Hold A Fundraiser
RAINN does loads of work aimed at both preventing sexual assault and easing the trauma of assault survivors. If you'd like to help them continue doing that work, consider holding a fundraising for them. It may sound daunting, but truthfully, fundraisers aren't all that difficult to host: It's as simple as having a house party, calling it a fundraiser and collecting $5 at the door. If you'd like to fundraise for RAINN, here's how.
Donate To the Victims' Rights Law Center
Victims of sexual assault deserve justice, and that often means taking legal action. Unfortunately, lawyers are expensive, and many college students lack the resources to afford them. Luckily, there are organizations like the Victims' Rights Law Center, which provides legal resources — including, in certain cases, free legal representation — to assault survivors. Consider donating to them if you'd like to make the recovery process for assault victims a little bit easier.
Know Your Talking Points
Fighting against campus sexual assault doesn't just require money. A crucial part of being an effective activist is knowing your facts, as this empowers you to change minds and attitudes when the subject of sexual assault comes up. The American Association of University Women has an excellent roundup of essential numbers, facts, and statistics about campus sexual assault, and familiarizing yourself with them is a great way to educate friends, family and strangers about the scope of the problem and how best to fix it.
Although DeVos' announcement was a massively disappointing one, the fight against campus sexual assault extends beyond the policies of one federal agency, and thankfully, there are tons of ways you can join that fight.