LOADING ...

Fuck You, Betsy

Esther Wang Sep 11, 2018. 22 comments

More details are emerging about Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s proposal to overhaul how school districts and universities handle sexual harassment and assault complaints, and all I can say is, fuck you, Betsy.

According to the New York Times, the Department of Education’s own analysis of the new proposal—which would narrow the scope of what counts as harassment and give schools much more leeway in dismissing complaints—shows that, if implemented, schools and universities would conduct far fewer investigations of sexual harassment, assault, and rape:

The department projected that colleges and universities currently conduct an average of 1.18 sexual harassment investigations each per year, and that under the new rule, the figure would fall to 0.72 investigations per year, a decline of 39 percent. There are about 6,000 colleges and universities nationwide.

While the average number of Title IX investigations is not tracked at the elementary and secondary school level, the department drew data on sexual harassment episodes from its most recent civil rights data collection to conclude that the school districts currently investigate an average of 3.23 episodes per year. That rate, they estimated, would decrease to 1.61 under the new rules, a decline of 50 percent. There are about 17,000 elementary and secondary school districts.

Since becoming Education Secretary, DeVos has made rolling back the rights of sexual assault and rape survivors a part of her mission, repeatedly championing the rights of the accused. Last July, after she met with campus sexual assault survivors and had what I’m sure was a nice friendly chat with several men’s rights groups, she announced plans to rescind Obama-era Title IX enforcement guidelines that worked to ease the burden of proof on survivors of assault and called for universities to conduct timely investigations. Two months later, she did just that .

This new proposal would replace temporary guidelines DeVos put in place in 2017. While the exact language of the new regulations has yet to be released, the Times reports that there are “significant changes” in DeVos’s proposal, all of which limit the rights of survivors and allow schools and universities off the hook:

Among the most significant changes in the proposed rules would be the department’s move to clarify and narrow the scope of complaints that schools are obligated to investigate. The rules require that institutions investigate only formal complaints that are filed with an authority figure, and no longer require that schools investigate complaints alleging conduct that occurred off campus or outside their school-sponsored programs. The rules also allow schools to address more complaints through informal resolutions.

The Department of Education also plans on adopting a much narrower definition of sexual harassment, giving schools more leeway in dismissing claims of harassment or assault:

The new definition defines it as “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s education program or activity.”

The draft regulations would allow a school to dismiss a Title IX complaint if it does not meet the new definition of sexual harassment, even if the conduct is proved to be true.

Under the Obama administration, harassment was defined much more broadly, and accurately, as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” that includes “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

It’s pretty clear that DeVos’s main concern is not the needs of assault survivors, but the bottom line of schools and universities. These new guidelines, the DOE notes in its analysis, would not only limit the number of complaints filed, but potentially save schools more than $400 million over the next decade. The cost to those who may no longer be able to obtain a measure of justice was, of course, not addressed.

22 Comments

Other Esther Wang's posts

The Lingering Aftermath of an ICE Raid The Lingering Aftermath of an ICE Raid

Since the agency’s creation post-9/11, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials have always made it clear that their priority is to enforce cruelty. During last Wednesday’s ICE raids on seven poultry plants in Mississippi, that mission was on full display—in the form of weeping children separated from their parents and distraught family members frantically trying to locate their loved ones,...

When An Infamous Pedophile Tells You Who He Is, Maybe Believe Him When An Infamous Pedophile Tells You Who He Is, Maybe Believe Him

After Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide this past weekend, James B. Stewart, a columnist at the New York Times, decided it would be a great idea to write about how he met the noted pedophile in August of 2018, ostensibly to talk with Epstein about the rumor that he was advising Elon Musk. It is an extremely strange piece, because...

Melania Betrayed—Again! Melania Betrayed—Again!

Sometimes, especially during times as terrible as our current moment, we get the morally dubious hero we deserve: Enter Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the former planner of the Met Gala who organized Donald Trump’s inaugural celebration and then became a senior adviser to her long-time friend Melania Trump only to be fired by the first lady in February of 2018....

The Fear Is the Point The Fear Is the Point

On Monday, days after ICE conducted the largest workplace raid in its history and targeted and arrested hundreds of undocumented workers at poultry factories in Mississippi, the Trump administration announced that a rule that would make it harder for immigrants who use public programs like Medicaid or SNAP to obtain green cards would go into effect in October. The...

Suggested posts

The Lie of MeToo Going 'Too Far' The Lie of MeToo Going 'Too Far'

We haven’t even hit the two-year anniversary of the viral MeToo movement and, already, two high-profile men are making successful comebacks. Today, the Washington Post reports that political commentator Mark Halperin, who was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and physical assault, has landed a new book deal about the 2020 campaign, to the outrage of some of...

Harvey Weinstein May Face Yet Another Indictment Leading Up to Sexual Assault Trial Harvey Weinstein May Face Yet Another Indictment Leading Up to Sexual Assault Trial

According to Page Six, Harvey Weinstein may face yet another indictment leading up to his sexual assault trial on September 9. The charge centers around Sopranos actor Annabella Sciorra, who claims Weinstein raped her in her Gramercy Park apartment in 1993. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. presented her case in front of a grand jury with the aim...

Marianne Williamson Believes in 'Redemption' for Former Bernie Adviser Accused of Sexual Harassment Marianne Williamson Believes in 'Redemption' for Former Bernie Adviser Accused of Sexual Harassment

Marianne Williamson does not believe in depression, but she does believe in redemption for men accused of being fucking creeps. The newest addition to the Williamson team is former Bernie Sanders adviser Robert Becker, who was accused of sexual harassment and assault by a subordinate who says he forced his tongue into her mouth at the 2016 Democratic National...

After Sexual Abuse Allegations, James Levine Is Still Getting a Settlement After Sexual Abuse Allegations, James Levine Is Still Getting a Settlement

According to the Guardian, The New York Metropolitan Opera has settled its lawsuits with disgraced conductor James Levine, who the organization fired after finding what they allege to be “credible evidence that Mr. Levine had engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct both before and during the period when he worked at the Met.” Levine worked as the Met’s...

Casey Affleck Is an Ally Now? Casey Affleck Is an Ally Now?

Casey Affleck, alleged sexual harasser, all around creep and Hollywood person, has been slowly but surely making his way back into a comeback nearly a decade after two women filed sexual harassment lawsuits against him in 2010. (In case you’ve forgotten: the suits were settled out of court for undisclosed amounts.)Affleck paid a visit to Dax Shepard‘s Armchair Expert...

R. Kelly Faces Prostitution Charges for Soliciting a Minor Who Asked Him for an Autograph R. Kelly Faces Prostitution Charges for Soliciting a Minor Who Asked Him for an Autograph

R. Kelly is facing prostitution charges in Minnesota for allegedly soliciting a minor who asked for his autograph in 2001, the BBC reports. According to NBC News, he faces one count of engaging in prostitution with a minor and one count of soliciting a minor for sexual purposes. The woman in question was 17 in 2001, and was allegedly...

Afton Williamson Identifies Demetrius Grosse As the Guest Star Who Allegedly Harassed Her Afton Williamson Identifies Demetrius Grosse As the Guest Star Who Allegedly Harassed Her

Over the weekend, Afton Williamson announced that she’d quit her role on The Rookie citing of racism and sexual harassment on set. On Monday night, she revealed in an Instagram post the names of the people she said were responsible.Williamson said the showrunners ignored her complaints of “racial discrimination/racially charged inappropriate comments” from the head of the show’s hair...

Tribute Post to Mitch McConnell's Patio Tribute Post to Mitch McConnell's Patio

Barf BagWelcome to Barf Bag, a daily politics roundup to help you sort through the chaotic Trumpian news cycle.  Cry time comes a day early.Here’s all the shit we couldn’t cover today:Mitch McConnell “tripped at home on his outside patio and suffered a fractured shoulder,” according to spokesman David Popp. [New York Times]Please take a moment to reflect on Mitch...

Emma Watson Launches Free Legal Hotline for Workplace Sexual Harassment Advice Emma Watson Launches Free Legal Hotline for Workplace Sexual Harassment Advice

Emma Watson has launched a new hotline for women in England and Wales—which is, according to the actress-activist, the first hotline in the area to offer free specialized legal advice for women with questions about workplace harassment. The goal of the hotline, which is also backed by Time’s Up United Kingdom, is to help women hold their employers accountable,...

The Rookie's Afton Williamson Quits Show After Showrunner Allegedly Ignored Racist Bullying, Sexual Harassment The Rookie's Afton Williamson Quits Show After Showrunner Allegedly Ignored Racist Bullying, Sexual Harassment

Afton Williamson, a series regular on ABC’s cop show The Rookie, has quit the show ahead of its second season, alleging the showrunners ignored her complaints about racism, bullying, and sexual harassment on set.According to Deadline, Williamson, who portrayed training officer Talia Bishop, told executive producer/showrunner Alexi Hawley that she endured “racial discrimination/racially charged inappropriate comments” from the head of...

Language