Public comments open on proposed sweeping Title IX changes

Sac State unable to comment on changes without direction from CSU


Photo by Gage Skidmore - CC BY-SA 2.0

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. DeVos recently announced changes to Title IX that are now open to public comment through Jan. 28.

Will Coburn

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ proposed changes to Title IX that reduces universities’ liability in sexual assault cases are now open to public comment after being announced Nov. 16.

Public comment will be open for 60 days closing Jan. 28 and can be made at

Sacramento State is unable to provide comment on the proposed changes to regulations at this time, according to William Bishop, director of the office of equal opportunity. Bishop said the school is waiting for direction from the chancellor’s office as to how these changes will affect how the university’s Title IX office investigates charges of sexual assault and harassment.

The goal of the changes is to clarify the rules and requirements of schools, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Education. The changes are expected to save $286 to $368 million over the next decade.

Jaime Gerigk, WEAVE director of counseling and outreach, said she was skeptical of the proposed regulations. WEAVE is a Sacramento based care provider for sexual and domestic assault victims.

“These proposed regulations, they protect the colleges and the accused and do not support the survivors,” Gerigk said. ”If money is saved, it is on that back of the survivors.”

In the proposed regulation, a college’s responsibility to investigate sexual assault and harassment will be limited to events that happen on campus or within an educational program, meaning the school would not investigate incidents that happen off campus.

The proposed regulations also increase protections for those accused of sexual assault, including the right for the accused to cross-examine their accuser. This will be subject to local Rape Shield laws.

In California, this protection for the victims is stated in California Evidence Code Section 1103, which says that previous sexual behavior of the victim cannot be presented as evidence. However, it does not apply to previous sexual actions with the defendant.

Gerigk called this change “very dangerous.”

“The person who was assaulted needs to work with their assailant, which can retraumatize a survivor,” Gerigk said. “You’re asking for the person was assaulted to be cross-examined with their assailant right there, it’s just going to de-incentivize people from reporting.”

The executive order says that schools will now define sexual harassment as “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity.”