Know Your IX Response to Bipartisan Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) on Campus Sexual Violence Act
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(July 31, 2014) – Today, Representatives Jackie Speier, Patrick Meehan, Judy Chu, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Barbara Lee, and Sheila Jackson Lee introduced the bipartisan Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) on Campus Sexual Violence Act. We believe the HALT Act proposes a powerful path to ending assault and harassment in our schools.
We are particularly pleased that the bill would create real sanctions for schools violating students’ civil rights by providing the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) the authority to levy fines against noncompliant institutions. Because the OCR’s only current sanctioning power—denying a school all federal funding—would devastate students, Know Your IX has advocated for intermediate fining authority since our launch last summer. To make the promise of Title IX a reality for students, the Department of Education needs a smart, productive way to hold schools accountable—and fines are just that solution.
Know Your IX is also heartened to see that the HALT Act would require transparency and openness from the Department of Education with respect to its investigation and resolution practices. While the Department of Education under Assistant Secretary Catherine Lhmaon’s leadership has committed to releasing this vital information to the public, including to prospective students and their families, codifying this openness will ensure continued transparency in future administrations.
Know Your IX appreciates the Representatives’ strong commitment to grounding this legislation in students’ experiences and input so that its policies will best address the challenges survivors face on the ground. We look forward to continuing this collaboration throughout the legislative process.
Know Your IX Response to Bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(July 30, 2014) – This morning Senators including Kirsten Gillibrand, Claire McCaskill, Richard Blumenthal, and Mark Warner, alongside Republican co-sponsors Senators Chuck Grassley, Kelly Ayotte, Dean Heller, and Marco Rubio, released promising bipartisan legislation to combat campus sexual violence. We believe this bill is an important step, and we are grateful for our elected officials’ leadership in confronting one of the most significant civil rights challenges of our day.
While the process of turning these bills into law will of course be a lengthy one, we are heartened to see bipartisan support for impactful reforms, including mandated Department of Education transparency and real sanctions for schools violating students’ civil rights. We believe that these two reforms in particular, for which we have advocated since our launch, must be central to any effort to improve campus responses to sexual violence.
Many of these proposals grew from student experience and input, and we are pleased to be represented by Members of Congress who listen to and value survivors’ expertise on the ground. We look forward to continued conversation and collaboration to create law that builds safe, just campuses for students of all genders.
Know Your IX Response to White House Task Force Report
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(April 28, 2014) – Tonight the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault released its first report on ending campus sexual violence. We are grateful for the Task Force’s tireless work and commitment to improving federal enforcement of Title IX, the 40-year-old landmark civil rights legislation that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Less than a year ago we launched our ED ACT NOW campaign with a protest outside the Department of Education (ED). We hoped to spark a conversation about better federal enforcement of Title IX and bring our policy recommendations, based on the experiences of student survivors across the country, to the Administration. Today we are encouraged to see many of our demands at the heart of the Task Force’s report.
We are particularly encouraged by the Task Force’s commitment to transparency, which we have demanded repeatedly since our first action. We hope that improved access to information about previous and ongoing Title IX investigations will provide students and their families with much-needed insight into universities’ track records on sexual violence and will allow the public to hold both schools and ED accountable. We note, however, that to promote true transparency, ED must make the list of schools under investigation available publicly rather than solely upon request, as the Task Force now requires. We are also glad to see our recommendation that the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Department of Justice, and Federal Student Aid Office coordinate their efforts to ensure effective investigations.
Still, these changes will mean little until Title IX enforcement is finally given teeth. It is unconscionable that, in ED’s entire history, the agency has never once sanctioned a school for sexual violence-related violations of Title IX. Such tolerance allows institutional abuses to go unchecked at students’ expense. We hope that legislators will step in to fill this gap in the Task Force’s recommendations by providing the OCR with new tools to hold schools accountable and protect students’ civil rights. For example, we ask Congress to empower the OCR to levy intermediate fines for Title IX violations. Currently the OCR has only two options at its disposal: revoke all federal funding — which would be devastating for students, particularly those dependent upon federal financial aid — or do nothing at all. Intermediate sanctions would allow the OCR to hold schools accountable without hurting students in the process.
We have seen the movement against campus sexual violence make great strides in this last year, and are so grateful to the many tireless students, advocates, organizations, and government officials who have joined us in this fight. There is still much to be done but today we are one significant step closer to realizing the promise of Title IX: equality in education for people of all genders.