WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement responding to Betsy DeVos’ announcement today on Title IX:
“Perhaps this is too personal to me, but, as a survivor of sexual assault, I was stunned to watch a United States education secretary recite the arguments of rape deniers and those who want to roll back the clock and revive the culture of degradation and silence that survivors of campus sexual assault have endured. Of course, those accused must have due process, which the current guidance allows, but it was sickening to hear Betsy DeVos claim that the Obama administration had weaponized the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights by stepping up and doing its job to protect students against rape and sexual assault and to support survivors. Rape culture on campus is real, and the guidance helped create some balance in the power dynamic that had enabled rape culture to persist.
“This is the latest in a troubling pattern in DeVos’ efforts to dismantle the department’s Office for Civil Rights and turn the federal government’s back on those who are vulnerable or disenfranchised.
“The facts are that 1 in 5 undergraduate women are sexually assaulted. But fewer than 10 percent of all sexual assaults are reported, because survivors are afraid of coming forward; 89 percent of colleges and universities reported no incidents of rape on campus in 2015. DeVos is right that we need systemic reform, but it’s this country’s ingrained campus rape culture that needs changing, not the law that challenges it.”