Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08) introduced a bill Tuesday that would prevent U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos from “implementing, enforcing, or otherwise giving effect to her proposed rule changes to Title IX.”
The first-term congresswoman was joined by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07), Jackie Speier (D-CA-14), and Annie Kuster (D-NH-02) in introducing the bill, which aims to “provide that the Secretary of Education may not issue or enforce certain rules that weaken the enforcement of the prohibition of sex discrimination applicable under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.”
Secretary DeVos introduced her proposed rule changes to Title IX in November 2018 that would raise the standards for investigating campus sexual assaults. Her rule changes have yet to be finalized, but would guarantee a person accused of sexual assault the right to cross-examine the accuser.
The rules would also limit colleges to investigating cases that occurred on campus or during a school program or activity. Another change would allow colleges to use a “clear and convincing evidence” standard as opposed to the “preponderance of evidence” standard recommended by former President Barack Obama’s administration.
Slotkin pointed out that she represents the Michigan State University community, which “has been so deeply affected by sexual assault on campus.” A press release claimed that Secretary DeVos’ proposed rule changes would specifically impact survivors of the Larry Nassar tragedy “by either shielding MSU from liability to take action on, or requiring MSU to ignore, accusations against Nassar.”
“I cannot understand why Secretary DeVos continues to move forward with proposed changes to Title IX that make it harder for victims to come forward with a successful claim,” Slotkin said in a statement. “I have done everything I can think of to appeal to Secretary DeVos to change course: I’ve submitted a formal comment on the rules and sent letters opposing her proposed changes, I’ve sent Freedom of Information requests, and met with her personally, all with the goal of reversing course.”
Slotkin said she has met regularly with survivors and university leadership in her district “who are deeply concerned about the chilling effect these rule changes would have on school safety.”
“They also stand ready to meet with the Secretary to help her understand why her changes would hurt our communities,” Slotkin concluded. “Given that Secretary DeVos insists on moving forward, I felt compelled to introduce this legislation that prevents those rules from taking effect.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Betsy DeVos” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.