by Nicholas Kalin, President, ACS George Mason University School of Law Student Chapter, and Arya Shirani, Vice President, ACS George Mason University School of Law Student Chapter
US Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appeared at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University’s Arlington campus to announce changes to the previous protocols regarding Title IX and sexual assault.
If the proposed policy shifts are put into place, sexual assault survivors will face greater pressure to contact the police instead of speaking to a trusted member of their university. Supporters of the previous policy state that students have been more comfortable reporting sexual assaults since the present policies took effect. We believe that the heightened requirement and the greater burden of proof required will make it less likely for survivors to come forward. We believe that the previous policy, while imperfect, allowed survivors to occupy a safer and more comfortable learning environment. This is a dangerous precedent to set. While we hope that not a single rape will occur and these policies will never be needed, we realize that is not the world we live in. The further weakening of Title IX practices and returning power to the schools will only erase the advances made for the rights of sexual assault survivors.