20 AGs Call on U.S. Education Secretary DeVos to Maintain Protections for Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault

Attorneys General from 20 states, including Delaware’s Matt Denn, sent a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos expressing their concern over reports the U.S. Department of Education is preparing to roll back important protections for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses and urging her to keep these protections in place. The Attorneys General also called on Secretary DeVos to work collaboratively with them to take action to end the scourge of sexual violence on our campuses.

“For the current administration in Washington and the federal Education Department to consider undoing protections currently in place for those who have survived sexual assault on a campus flies in the face of the progress the country has made – and that remains to be made – in confronting this serious issue,” Attorney General Denn said.

The Department of Education’s current guidance was first issued in 2011 and later clarified in 2014. The guidance instructs colleges on how they must address sexual assault incidents under Title IX. These steps include appointing a Title IX coordinator, requiring mandatory reporting by responsible school officials, and implementing procedures for handling investigations and hearings.

Of particular concern to the Attorneys General were the comments from Acting U.S. Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson, who claimed that 90 percent of campus sexual assault allegations “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.’”

The letter reaffirmed the Attorneys General’s commitment to working collaboratively with Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education to address the problem of sexual assault, including suggesting the Secretary engage with a bipartisan group of Attorneys General and other stakeholders to discuss collaboration.

Read text of the letter and list of signatories here.