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OPINION

Letter: Abuse victims on campus lose protections

The Examiner

Kim Churches, CEO, American Association of University Women:

To the editor:

Although the nation is facing an unprecedented health emergency that requires singular focus, the Trump administration has issued a rule that will substantially weaken Title IX, rolling back important protections for student survivors of sexual harassment and assault.

The decision by the U.S. Department of Education to move forward with this change follows more than a year of vigorous opposition from survivor advocacy organizations, civil rights groups and educational institutions. The outrageous new rule will make it harder for students who’ve experienced sexual harassment or violence to come forward to get the protection Title IX was created to provide.

Compounding the outrage is the fact that this rule is being finalized amid a global crisis that is causing confusion and unrest, specifically within the education community. To proceed with a policy change that will require extensive resources for training and implementation while students and schools are already facing unprecedented challenges is positively shameful.

In the best of times, the rule is ill-advised: It threatens to turn back the clock, reversing policies put in place to make it easier for survivors to report sexual misconduct. The rules will stack the deck against survivors, making it too onerous, even traumatic, for many to come forward. In short, the rule is antithetical to the fundamental promise of Title IX, that all students deserve access to an education free from sex discrimination.

But these are among the worst of times. The administration should keep its focus on protecting our colleges and universities, minding the shaky economy and on keeping Americans healthy and safe. To deprive American students of badly needed protections right now is just plain wrong.