A professor from Marlboro College in Vermont argued this week that Betsy DeVos’ new Title IX guidelines help survivors of sexual assault, a controversial stance in the eyes of leftists in academia.
In the column for Insider Higher Ed, Mott makes the case that the recently proposed rule changes for handling sexual misconduct on campus actually benefit survivors. The rules have been widely condemned by those on the left who believe that it is dangerous to give due process rights to those who are accused of sexual misconduct on campus.
Mott argues that the new rules give victims substantial powers that were unavailable to them under previous versions of the rules.
Under the Obama-era guidelines, students who had been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed were denied substantial decision-making processes. First, students had no choice in whether or not to report a case of nonconsensual sex or unwelcome sexual advances. Second, their judicial options were limited to a Title IX disciplinary panel. Third, the definition of sexual harassment privileged their fears over adult communication. All three elements of the old rules made it harder for survivors to heal.
Mott goes on to provide three substantive ways that the new proposed rules benefit survivors. First, the proposed changes allow the student to decide whether or not they want to initiate an investigation into the incident. Under the proposed rule, students would be able to speak with school officials about incidents without automatically triggering an investigation.
Second, the proposed rules allow for alternative forms of justice. Under the previous rules, incidents could only be handled by a disciplinary panel. Under the proposed rules, the victim could suggest alternative methods of justice, which allows them to take a greater or lesser role in the process.
Third, Mott makes the case that the proposed rules help colleges better define “gender violence.” Mott argues that under the previous rules, an accused party’s guilt was directly related to the level of emotional distress in the complainant.
On college campuses, however, cases are determined purely on the emotional distress of the complainant. If she (and majority of complainants still use that pronoun) feels demeaned, humiliated or scorned by the lascivious actions of another person, the encounter should be judged as harassment. Unfortunately, the subjective definition the Obama administration used has given an entire generation of college students a sense that painful feelings outrival communication. Students need not communicate their unease or discomfort to the offending party. All that is necessary is mentioning the encounter in passing to a “responsible employee” and the Title IX apparatus will jump into gear.
Mott may face considerable backlash from feminists and leftists in academia who consider the DeVos Title IX changes to be a terrible blow against women.