June 18, 2019 | 72° F

EDITORIAL: Barchi takes stand in right direction

U. president’s response to DeVos’s Title IX removal is praiseworthy


Betsy DeVos is making every college campus a frightening place to be. But Rutgers University is not letting that happen to this campus.

After the secretary of education stated that the Department of Education would be overturning legislation under the Title IX federal law, University President Robert L. Barchi was steadfast in announcing that Rutgers will continue with current policies on sexual assault. But what is DeVos changing that has lead to Barchi so firmly standing up for the policies surrounding sexual assault currently in place?

DeVos’s main concern when deciding to remove the Obama-era policies was that it was unfair to those who were accused of sexual assault and that the consequences that Title IX had in place could “jeopardize the futures” of the accused as well. She expressed that the regulations former President Barack Obama had instated on what constituted whether or not one student sexually assaulted another had low standards. DeVos also wants to push “mediation” when dealing with sexual assault and violence. Her proposed reasoning was that situations regarding sexual assault could be handled without the need for harsh circumstances.

Her words are alarming.

Adjusting policies so that they are not as detrimental to those who have sexually assaulted someone else is entirely misguided. If DeVos’s reasoning behind this is that she took those who were falsely accused and tried for sexual assault into consideration, then it would be important for her to consider that only 2 percent of sexual assault accusations that go to trial end up facing legal consequences. This does not mean that this 2 percent does not matter, but rescinding policies that are meant to protect victims for the sake of an occurrence that almost never happens does not make sense. Also, if DeVos truly believes that those who commit sexual violence are handled unfairly, she should consider that perpetrators of sexual violence are less likely to face jail time than any other criminal.

DeVos stripping away policies put into place to ensure that sexual violence is taken seriously is indicative of the current government’s lack of concern for these issues. Already, only two out of three cases of sexual assault go unreported. Pushing the initiative that DeVos is implementing is going to make it even more difficult for victims to come forward. The focus should not be on making perpetrators feel comfortable. Why should the feelings of someone who commits sexual assault be considered?

As for DeVos’s plan for mediation: Thinking that having someone in the same room as the person that they sexually assaulted and hoping that they can settle their case is extremely insensitive. DeVos would only have students who volunteer to take part in mediation doing so, but even thinking that it would be a good idea is tremendously imprudent. There is nothing to be “settled” with sexual assault. It is a terrible act of injustice and should be treated as such.

Barchi taking a stand against these new changes is extremely important. By being a state university and showing the nation that even the federal government cannot push Rutgers to do wrong, the University is spearheading the attitude that is necessary to protect the rights of students who are victims.

With a university that just hosted a Clothesline Project through the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance (VPVA) it seems as though Rutgers continues to thrive in the conversation of approaching sexual violence. And with Barchi’s words of firm support and courage, it is evident that the University is working hard to create a safe atmosphere on campus for those who have been victimized by this devastating injustice. 

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