WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement responding to the Department of Education’s announcement today of changes in the rules for how schools handle allegations of sexual harassment and assault under Title IX:
“Today Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ actions suggest that there was nothing wrong with the long-standing culture of “boys will be boys” and with reviving the old culture that silenced survivors of campus sexual assault. She uses a pandemic to turn a blind eye to the myriad forms of harassment students experience. The Title IX rollbacks are another example of how DeVos doesn’t believe the nation has a role in protecting students who are suffering, vulnerable or disenfranchised.
“We have often said we must respect and listen to accusers and then give the accused due process. As educators, we understand the need to protect those falsely accused—but the evidence that led to the original Title IX changes demonstrated the system failed survivors. One in 5 college undergraduate women are sexually assaulted, but fewer than 10 percent of all assaults are reported because survivors are afraid of coming forward. Seven out of 10 girls experience harassment before they leave high school—some through social media and off-campus activities, which will no longer be covered by this rule. Survivors look to school administrators and government institutions to protect them, not to codify a system that sweeps their experiences under the rug.
“DeVos abdicates the responsibility to protect every student’s right to safety at school. It tells academic institutions that they needn’t bother helping to protect students because they won’t be liable. And it demonstrates, once again, that DeVos thinks students and survivors are not worth standing up for.”