(Concord, NH) – Today at the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (NHCADSV) headquarters, Representative Annie Kuster (NH-02) and U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined survivor advocates from the NHCADSV, the University of New Hampshire Prevention Innovations Research Center, Keene State College, Colby Sawyer College, Plymouth State University, and Rivier University to highlight the potential negative impacts of the proposed changes to Title IX announced on Friday by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The suggested changes to Title IX include narrowing the definition of sexual harassment, establishing a higher legal standard on which to hold schools accountable for ignoring wrongdoing, and constraining the purview schools have to investigate accusations against students. Title IX mandates equal opportunity to education without regard to gender, and empowers schools, colleges, and universities to improve resources for survivors and conduct internal investigations into reported incidents of sexual violence.
“Title IX mandates equal opportunity to education, and the proposed changes by Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration will undermine that goal,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “These proposed changes will serve to make schools, campuses, and students less safe. The Secretary should reevaluate her proposals and instead focus on improving the safety and well-being of students. I appreciate the opportunity to hear from so many incredible survivor advocates and educators today on this important issue, and I will work with them to strengthen safety for all our students.”
“The Title IX guidance issued during the Obama Administration was a strong step forward in ensuring that every student feels safe and supported in their living and academic environment,” Senator Hassan said. “I am deeply concerned that the proposal announced by Secretary DeVos would weaken these protections for students and make it easier for colleges and universities to dodge their responsibilities. I’ll keep standing with advocates across the country and work to ensure that those who have experienced sexual assault have the support and protections they deserve.”
“We’re deeply concerned that the proposed Title IX regulations, if enacted, would deter survivors from coming forward, allow schools to excuse sexual violence, and create unsafe learning environments on our campuses,” said Amanda Grady Sexton, Director of Public Affairs, the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. “We’re incredibly grateful to Senator Hassan, Congresswoman Kuster, and the multidisciplinary roundtable participants for joining us in this critical discussion. Sexual assault is already among the most underreported crimes and we cannot afford to take steps backwards. We are committed to continuing to work with elected officials, victims/survivors, professionals working in our schools, and advocates to prevent the weakening of Title IX.”
Congresswoman Kuster, the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, has long been a champion for survivors of sexual and domestic violence, sharing her own personal experiences involving sexual assault on the House floor and joining with 17 other Members of Congress to read Emily Doe’s open letter describing her attack and ensuing trial – which marked the first time a victim’s statement has been read in full in the House chambers. The Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence works to raise awareness and propose solutions to the challenges posed by sexual assault. The Task Force’s areas of focus include: K-12 education, campus sexual violence, the rape kit backlog, military sexual trauma, improved data and collection, online harassment, and law enforcement training.