President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Monday requiring a review of the Title IX policies created under former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and former President Donald Trump, as part of the White House’s observance of International Women's Day.
Current Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will now be tasked with reviewing Title IX regulations alongside Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson until Biden’s attorney general nominee is approved. Their findings will then be presented to the Office of Management and Budget.
The executive order also outlines the Biden administration’s Title IX policy, stating, “all students should be guaranteed an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including discrimination in the form of sexual harassment.” The White House defines sexual harassment as any form of sexual violence, which includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Department of Education will look specifically at policies created by the Trump administration in 2020, which granted more protections to students accused of sexual assault. These policies require schools to hold live hearings at which accusers and accused parties can be cross examined, investigate accusations only made through a formal reporting process and withhold Title IX complaints for any case that occurs off campus.
ASU has been criticized by students for its mishandling of sexual assault cases and lack of communication regarding the most recent changes to Title IX, and some advocates are worried that an overhaul of current policies isn’t enough to protect ASU students.
Jasmine Lester, an ASU alumna and founding director of Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault, said the Biden administration is taking a step in the right direction, but it won’t change the existing issues students are having with the University.
“We hope that, in addition to rescinding Trump-era guidance that makes reporting more difficult, the Department of Education requires colleges to improve support services for survivors,” Lester said.
Student organizations like SDASA and the ASU Women’s Coalition are pushing for additional resources for sexual assault survivors, such as a rape crisis center. Lester says these efforts are being ignored by the University.
“If meetings with students, a viral petition and testimony from survivors aren’t enough to compel ASU to invest in services for rape survivors, intervention from the Department of Education is necessary,” Lester said.
The University did not respond to requests for comment.
The Department of Education has 100 days to review current guidelines and present its findings to the OMB, after which Cardona will present new Title IX guidelines for colleges to follow. The executive order does not include a timeline for the presentation of new guidance, making it unclear when change will be seen in schools.
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