Survivors of Sexual Violence Advocates for Students Rights in Face of Opposition at the Department of Education
Survivor advocate groups have been asking to meet with United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos since before her confirmation hearing in February. On Thursday, July 13th, DeVos finally held a 90 minute meeting with survivor advocacy organizations, including End Rape On Campus, National Women’s Law Center, SurvJustice, and others. Shortly after, DeVos met with several “men’s rights” organizations that claim to advocate for the falsely accused. At least one of these organizations have in the past blamed survivors for being sexually assaulted, published survivors’ names and information in aggressive smear campaigns, and denied that campus sexual violence is an issue to be taken seriously.
Survivors have remained vocal online and in person about the importance of maintaining protections on campuses and listening to survivor perspectives. Hundreds have taken to Twitter under the hashtag #DearBetsy, asking DeVos to listen to and learn from survivors’ experiences. Earlier this week, 114 survivors of campus sexual violence penned an open letter to Betsy DeVos, explaining just how important Title IX guidance is for survivors to seek justice, find support, and continue to benefit from their education. Thursday morning, survivors and allies gathered outside the Department of Education to share stories from all over the country, in a rally led by Know Your IX.
While this morning’s session was an important starting point for DeVos, 90 minutes is not enough time to hear from survivors and is not enough time to gain a complete understanding of the serious epidemic of campus sexual violence. We call upon Betsy DeVos to continue to hear from those who will be most impacted by her decisions on Title IX guidance by embarking on a national survivor listening tour. We need Secretary DeVos to make well-informed decisions to protect survivors and uphold all students’ civil rights.
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End Rape on Campus (EROC) is a national survivor-led nonprofit dedicated to ending gender based violence on college campuses through survivor support, prevention through education, and policy advocacy. You can learn more at www.endrapeoncampus.org.