Dear Campus Community:
I watched closely Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s speech about the future of Title IX on Thursday, Sept, 7, 2017. While I have concerns about where the department is headed, ultimately, her remarks did not shed much light on what direction the federal government will take with regard to sexual assault in higher education.
What is clear for the time being, is that nothing will change. DeVos announced that there will be a notice and comment process, but it is unclear whether the notice and comment process will address proposed regulations or proposed guidance issued by the Department of Education. Until something substantive is produced, it is difficult to accurately determine the direction of the federal agency. The real work of addressing how educational institutions address sexual misconduct on campus is ahead. I encourage everyone to participate in the notice and comment process. That feedback will be critical to ensuring a system that protects the rights of students to pursue their educational endeavors free from sexual misconduct while protecting the due process rights for those who may be held accountable for their actions.
The University of Utah remains committed to the safety of its students. The university recently revised its policies to provide a more centralized and streamlined process for addressing issues of discrimination and sexual misconduct. As a result of the President’s Task Force on Safety, the university invested nearly $400,000 to expand resources. An additional victim advocate will be hired in the U’s Center for Student Wellness; the Women’s Resource Center staff counselor will be increased to full-time status; the Dean of Students is hiring an additional conduct staff member; all students and newly hired staff will be required to complete a safety and prevention training; and a centralized safety website that will include information about sexual assault reporting and prevention will launch this semester. Our commitment to student safety and prevention efforts will not change.
We know that sexual assault on colleges campuses is underreported, and we will continue to improve and encourage an environment that supports students in reporting, addressing and remedying the effects of sexual violence on our campus.
Title IX Coordinator