Rutgers will uphold its sexual assault policy despite changes to Title IX
Betsy DeVos recently rescinded two sets of guidelines that dictate how campuses across the nation are required to handle sexual assault
Earlier this month, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education will rescind the sexual assault guidelines laid out by Title IX.
As a new set of protocols are solidified, the processes by which universities handle cases of rape and sexual assault will be turned upside down — but Rutgers’ policy will remain intact, according to University President Robert L. Barchi.
“I want to be clear that nothing about these announcements will affect the way that we at Rutgers address sexual assault and harassment,” Barchi said in an email to the student body. “We are the leaders in providing evidence-based, innovative, and comprehensive services to all members of our community. We will continue to lead.”
Rutgers operates under a system that was developed a year-and-a-half ago, which lays out comprehensive guidelines for reporting, investigating and disciplining perpetrators of sexual assault. The University policy also provides a comprehensive definition of what is and is not considered “consent.”
“Rutgers University has a longstanding history of providing comprehensive support and advocacy to survivors, and we believe firmly in prevention programs that teach students to be positive, active bystanders,” Barchi said. “We believe in continuous learning and improvement, and — with the help of $2 million Rutgers has received from the Victims of Crime Act Grant Program distributed through the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office — we will continue working to make advancements in services, education, research and prevention.”
In her time leading the Department of Education, DeVos has already revoked the Title IX guidelines that specify survivors' rights on university campuses, while pushing mediation as a primary form of resolution, according to Time Magazine. One of her central criticisms of Title IX is that it treats accused individuals unfairly during sexual assault trials.
At Rutgers, there are numerous resources set up for victims of sexual violence, the most prevalent being the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance (VPVA). The VPVA works directly with the University administration to offer counseling for survivors while simultaneously leading campaigns to raise awareness of sexual violence.
Last month, the VPVA held the Clothesline Project at Voorhees Mall on the College Avenue campus — a visual display that showed solidarity with victims of sexual violence.
“We are committed to equity, fairness and respect for all of our students who may be personally involved in instances of sexual assault or harassment, are exposed to such behavior or are accused of such behavior,” Barchi said. “Our commitment will not waver.”
Last month, Rutgers was invited to lead a presentation for the AAU on its cutting-edge sexual assault policy, said Debasish Dutta, the chancellor of Rutgers—New Brunswick.
“I think what (Barchi) is referring to and, what you probably know already, is that we are at the forefront. Rutgers—New Brunswick’s work in sexual violence prevention is well known, it was recognized by the White House,” Dutta said. “So yes, we will continue our efforts for which we are very well known regardless of any changes in the Department of Education.”