We at YWCA Mohawk Valley firmly oppose the decision to pass the changes to Title IX as proposed by the U.S. Department of Education. As a the only sexual violence crisis services provider in Herkimer and Oneida counties, we support New York State’s decision to file a lawsuit against the Department for its final actions.
New York State is a national leader in advocating for protections of survivors in an educational setting. Enough is Enough is a statewide program that protects college and university students regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other protected class.
Through Enough is Enough, we are able to support students, parents, faculty, and staff at eight campuses across the Mohawk Valley. College and university campuses are communities with incredible potential for exponential growth and influence. Our work to provide free and confidential sexual violence crisis services and prevention education opportunities allows us to reach thousands of lives potentially affected by such a pervasive issue as sexual assault.
Most of these changes directly contradict New York State regulations from Enough is Enough and state-wide sexual harassment mandates. They halt our ability to identify, protect, and support survivors of sexual violence, something that is already an uphill climb as providers. Currently, one in four women and one in seven men are sexually assaulted during college, but 90 percent of them do not report the crime.
The new federal-level regulations ultimately create more barriers for survivors seeking justice. Some of these harmful changes include:
- Changing the legal definition of “sexual harassment” to include three extreme qualifications, creating a “hasn’t suffered enough” standard on survivors.
- Placing the burden of proof on survivors and requiring schools to hold in-person cross-examination during review procedures.
- Revoking coverage of survivors who are part of the campus network but are assaulted off campus.
- Allowing schools to dismiss reports when they are not made to the “correct” person.
- Allowing schools to dismiss reports when the victim OR accused are no longer “participating…in the education program,” including after graduating or transferring.
These changes are unfair, unethical, and unacceptable.
We will always stand in support of survivors, and so we stand strongly opposed to these devastating changes. To the survivors in our community: we see you, we hear you, we believe you.