Awaiting major policy announcements from the Trump administration has become the most maddening and anxiety provoking of exercises. This is because while we can never be fully certain as to what Trump and company will do, we do know that it is likely to have horrific consequences for the most marginalized and vulnerable communities in our country. On Tuesday, in what could only be described as complete cowardice and cruelty, Donald Trump ended DACA protections for 800,000 young people who were brought to this country and were here as undocumented minors. So we have confirmed that his willingness to be heartless is without depth. And in what could be another devastating blow to human dignity and decency, it appears that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is also planning an announcement this week—about Title IX and how the Department of Education requires universities to handle campus rape.
DeVos will speak at George Mason's Antonin Scalia Law School, named for the late conservative Supreme Court justice, according to a source with knowledge of the event and preliminary planning reviewed by BuzzFeed News. Federal officials have described Thursday's event to school officials as focused on Title IX policy "centered around equal opportunity and equal protection for all."
Insiders expect this to be an announcement regarding what the US Department of Education will do regarding Obama-era directives on campus rape. A representative for the department did not immediately return a request for comment about the event. The department is expected to make a public announcement on Wednesday evening about the event at the school's Arlington, Virginia campus, the source told BuzzFeed News.
This doesn’t look good. What we know so far from their actions is that neither DeVos nor Candice Jackson, the head of the Office of Civil Rights at the Education Department, care anything about protecting the rights of vulnerable students. In fact, they’ve already gotten rid of protection for transgender students. And they have also indicated that they want to implement campus rape policy reforms, beginning with centering the rights of students who have been accused of assault. So believing that they will keep in place a directive which lays out how schools should properly investigate sexual assault is wishful thinking.
The 2011 directive laid out how long campus investigations should take, what standard of evidence to use, and that schools could not simply defer to police to handle reports of sexual assault. [...]
Under DeVos's leadership, the department has signaled significant changes are coming to federal policy on how schools deal with sexual violence under Title IX. She declined during her confirmation process to commit to keeping the 2011 guidance in place, and said in July, after a day of meeting with attorneys, survivors, and students accused of assault, that changes to Title IX policy needed to come "quickly."
Donald Trump is pro-sexual assault. He’s admitted it in his own words and it wasn’t enough to stop people from voting for him. It was signed off by a large number of Republicans as “locker room talk.” It’s not a stretch to imagine that he has hired folks in his administration who aren’t the least bit invested in protecting sexual assault victims. So we should be prepared for them to overturn this guidance. This is vile, disgusting and sad—but not at all surprising from this administration.