Last Friday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinded guidelines established by the Obama administration involving campus sexual assault.
President Obama and Vice President Biden made campus sexual assault a bigger issue than it had ever been before during their time in the White House. The two even went so far as to pledge in July 2016 that they would no longer visit colleges and universities that were falling short in addressing sexual assault.
Under the Trump administration’s new rules, colleges and universities can raise their standard of proof for the accused from “preponderance of the evidence” to “clear and convincing evidence.” This change weakens campus sexual-assault protections and undoes some of the great progress made from 2008 to 2016.
A 2016 study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that one in four women will experience sexual assault while in college. Despite this staggeringly high number, only 20 percent of college-age women will report what happened to them to university administrators or the police. The new guidelines will further discourage reporting and allow more rapists to avoid punishment.
We, at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, are lucky to have an administration that prioritizes sexual assault and actively seeks to address it.
However, it is still a problem on campus. We can all play a role in combating sexual violence by believing survivors, knowing the definition of consent, and intervening in applicable situations. It's on us.
Patrick Brever, La Crosse