Staff editorial: Make your voice heard on proposed Title IX changes

Washington University, along with its peer institutions in the Association of American Universities, is prepared to submit its objections to the Department of Education’s proposed Title IX changes.

Prior to implementing changes, the DOE is legally obligated to hold a 60-day window—until Jan. 28, 2019—during which the public can submit responses to the proposal. Wash. U. student groups Title Mine and Wash. U. Planned Parenthood Generation Action are planning to host a “Comment-Writing Party” tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. for students to provide their own comments.

The Editorial Board urges students to participate in this process during the commenting period, if not tomorrow, then either on their own or at a later comment-writing party. The proposed changes will have tangible effects on students—don’t allow the opportunity to speak out pass by.

In particular, the new guidelines may hurt survivors. For example, the regulations would allow cross-examination between the accused and the complainant—running the risk of further traumatizing the survivor. The process of filing a Title IX is already difficult to undertake; the possibility of being confronted by their perpetrators is one that would discourage survivors from reporting and further protect perpetrators.

Wash. U. plans to reject this notion outright, which the board commends, but it is important for students to share their disapproval, too. While this rejection is admirable, if the change is implemented as is, Wash. U. will be required to follow the procedure as law. The time to speak out is now.

The proposal also allows universities to require a higher standard of evidence (clear and convincing, rather than preponderance) in assault cases. Wash. U. elects to use a preponderance of evidence in all student conduct cases and would remain consistent in Title IX cases, but it is still important for students to reject this option. Such a standard, if chosen by other U.S. institutions, would make it even more difficult for survivors across the nation to pursue action against their perpetrators.

While the administration understandably emphasizes that they will continue to support survivors regardless of what changes are finalized, we implore students to take matters into their own hands to the extent that is possible—understand the gravity of the proposal, learn more at tomorrow’s event and add your own comments in response.