Big news: tomorrow, we’re going to meet with Betsy DeVos. The Secretary of Education and her Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson are holding multiple meetings about Title IX’s protections for sexual violence survivors. The first will be with survivors and their advocates, like NWLC and our partners. The second will be with students who claim they were wrongfully accused, and groups that represent them. Later in the day, DeVos and Jackson will meet with university representatives, many of whom would prefer if the government never held them accountable for Title IX violations, and men’s rights activists like the National Coalition for Men, whose president thinks victims are to blame for domestic violence.
I wish I were joking.
I’ll be honest: we’re seriously concerned that we were invited so the Secretary can check off the “met with survivors” box before undermining civil rights protections. Over the past few months, both DeVos and Jackson have consulted with – and hired! – many who believe current Title IX standards and enforcement provide too much protection to survivors. Yet they’re only willing to provide 90 minutes to a small group of survivors on Thursday. That’s nowhere near enough to understand the complexities in play—the range of experiences, policy needs, and necessary solutions.
Whatever the motives behind our invitation, we won’t give up an opportunity to stand up for students’ civil rights. That’s why we’re working hard to make sure Betsy DeVos hears from as many survivors as possible in the short window we have. We’re asking survivors and their loved ones across the country to share their stories about sexual violence in schools with us (anonymously if you’d prefer). We’ll bring these stories to the meeting and read them outside during a story share co-organized by Know Your IX and End Rape on Campus. We’ll amplify your voices to make sure the Secretary hears how sexual violence impacts students’ educations and why their Title IX rights must be enforced.
Please share your story and tune in to our Facebook page at 9:30am on Thursday for a livestream of the story share. We’ll update you right after our meeting about the next steps for the fight.
And as a final thought: