Campus Sexual Violence: Title IX vs. Trump vs. 'New Power'

by Naomie Tat on March 17, 2017 - 10:40am

Do you know your rights? Because most victims of campus sexual violence do not.

Jessica Luther, in her New York Times’ article “Fighting College Sexual Assault in the Trump Era”, talks about the rights of survivors of sexual assault on campus and how they might be jeopardized due to the election of President Trump. In 1972, the Title IX of the Education Amendments was voted in the United States. This amendment, which is also known as the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, which states that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance” has been a powerful tool to combat campus sexual violence. It has not only allowed female athletes to be treated equal to male athletes in all fields of college sports teams, but has also provided protection to pregnant students as well as students who have children.  Due to this act, the rights of transgender students, victims of sexual violence and victims of gender-based harassment have been protected. If victims feel that their school has violated Title IX, they have the right to file a complaint at the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), a sub-agency of the United Stated Department of Education. When Obama was in office, the Department of Education signed a bill that further protected those rights. Since October 7th, 2016, colleges and universities around America have the obligation to adequately respond to allegations and complaints of sexual harassment and violence. Thus, if they do not do so, it becomes a violation of Title IX. The bill of rights also asks for those institutions to have a specific coordinator who is responsible for investigations as well as the prevention of harassment and sexual assault through counseling and offering other accommodations, such as changing course schedules or campus housing.  As of February of 2017, the OCR is investigating over 300 cases of Title IX violations by 223 colleges and universities around the country due to many reports of unfair investigatory processes and failures to investigate complaints. Last month, Trump’s pick for the new education secretary, Betsy DeVos confirmed that she is not willing to continue enforcing Title IX.  

So, what is the issue? There are many issues regarding Title IX and how the Trump government will affect the act. The main problem is that many schools will make their efforts to help survivors and investigate cases assault even less prominent. They will stop preventing future occurrences. On thing to be hopeful is that college and universities have put a large amount of their money in building Title IX departments and hiring staff to run them. Therefore, there is no worry that schools that already have that established will go “backwards at this point no matter who is running the Department of Education” as John Clune, a Title IX lawyer from Boulder, Colorado has said. However, it will still inevitably slow down the progress that schools have been making to protect their students’ rights.

In brief, as a staff lawyer of the American Civil Liberties Union, Chase Strangio, described: “the source of substantive protection of the civil rights laws are the civil rights statutes themselves and the [federal agencies] can’t undo that.”

“New Power”, which is often defined as something that is made by many, is open to participation, is peer-driven and, like a current, distributes rather than captures, can enable individuals and groups to respond to this issue. To solve these issues in a concrete way, many different organizations have created projects, like Reach Out: College Edition and Callisto (by Capptivation). Reach Out is a smartphone application which helps high school’, college’ and university’ students learn about their rights, their options and the laws that protect them from campus sexual misconduct. It connects students directly to their Title IX coordinators and the authorities. Some schools have even expanded the app to help students with other areas such as academic support, substance abuse, depression, bullying, disabilities, etc. On the other hand, Callisto recognizes that “20% of women, 7% of men, and 24% of trans and gender nonconforming students are victims of sexual assault.” According to Sexual Health Innovations, the company that generated Callisto's, research, less than 10% of campus assault survivors report their cases to authorities and those who do wait almost an entire year before doing so, because they take time to realize what happened to them and label it. 85% of college sexual assault survivors are terrified to speak up because they are afraid of the social consequences and to not be believed by their friends, family members and/or school administrators. As a solution, Ladd created Callisto, a website launched to college campuses around the country that provides a safe and supportive platform for students to learn about and report sexual assault and sexual violence on their campus. The website can help prevent 59% of sexual assault just by stopping repeat perpetrators early on. Its founders describe Callisto as an information escrow that holds information for you. It only shares the information if two people name the same person or another person describes the same offender. Then, the information provided is directly sent to the Title IX coordinator and the authorities for investigation. Thus, victims and survivors no longer have to physically go report sexual assault and can know immediately when offenders have repeated their behavior. They can know they have helped prevent sexual violence on campus without having to publicly tell their friends and family.

I believe both platforms can do a lot for the issue of sexual violence on college campuses as it can help inform teenagers and help combat a lot of the reasons why they do not want to express their concerns. They are both products of the concept of 'New Power' as they are both peer-driven, are open to participation and distributes information from students to other students, as well as the authorities. In addition, I obviously hope that Reach Out: College Edition and Callisto will soon make their way around the globe and expands from only being available in the United States. However, both ideas and the development of both networks are genius and have an enormous amount of potential. 

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Here is a link to the TED Talk given by the founder of Sexual Health Innovations, Jessica Ladd, where she clearly explains the purpose of Callisto

https://www.ted.com/talks/jessica_ladd_the_reporting_system_that_sexual_assault_survivors_want

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Works Cited List:

- Main Article -

 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/us/college-campuses-title-ix-sexual-assault.html?_r=0

- Title IX -

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/title-ix-investigations-sexual-harassment_us_575f4b0ee4b053d433061b3d

http://time.com/2912420/titleix-anniversary/

https://www.knowyourix.org/college-resources/title-ix/

http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2016/10/07/obama-signs-law-guaranteeing-survivors-of-sexual-assault-basic-federal-rights/

- 'New Power' - 

https://hbr.org/2014/12/understanding-new-power

- Callisto -

 https://www.capptivation.com/buzz.html

 https://www.projectcallisto.org/how-it-works/

- Reach Out: College Edition -

 https://www.forbes.com/sites/janetwburns/2016/12/05/a-powerful-app-is-helping-survivors-fight-sexual-assault-on-campuses-everywhere/#7d0e935c3128

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/reach-out-college-edition/id1039603782?l=fr&mt=8

Comments

What an insightful article! Seeing as how I’ve never heard of Callisto, your explanation of this amazing app was very thorough. Personally, I believe it’s sexist and harmful to women that political leaders refuse to continue to ensure the safety and security of students. It astonishes me that people refuse to believe that rape culture is real despite the number of cases reported, as mentioned in your article.
Rape culture is the notion of belittling the act of rape, victim blaming, sympathizing with the perpetrator and believing that sexual violence is not a systemic problem, primarily towards women. In a patriarchal society where women are constantly sexualized and objectified, by not enforcing Title IX females become more at risk for sexual assault because of the lack of repercussions towards the perpetrators. Here’s a video of Milo Yiannopoulos, discrediting the notion of rape culture and blaming women, that you might be interested in hearing to learn the mindset of those who don’t believe that Title IX is necessary.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOEH95sRAwY
I think society and mass media is also to blame. Advertisements and music videos contribute to the increase of sexual assaults due to the sexualization of violence against women being portrayed, which sends the wrong message to men concerning sex. I believe both the government and society must take steps against the promotion of sexualized assault. This feminist mindset is imperative to ensure the safety of all members of our society, particularly women.
Bibliography
“Milo Yiannopoulos Destroys Lad Culture and College Rape Culture.” YouTube, YouTube, 16 July 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOEH95sRAwY. Accessed 21 Mar. 2017.

You have done an excellent job explaining the purpose of Title XI and the repercussions of the Trump administration no longer reinforcing it on colleges. Moreover, you provided a well-described and interesting perspective on the ways in which websites and smartphone applications can now be used in this digital age to counteract the negative effects of this policy change on victims of sexual assault.

In order to strengthen your argument, you could consider how society’s element of “rape culture” is affected by the new administration and the way in which it interacts with the Reach Out: College Edition and Callisto media platforms. Rape culture is the system that normalizes sexual assault in our society and that allows for a minority of men to engage in that behavior through several factors including victim blaming, victimizing the perpetrator, objectifying women, and denying the frequency of rape. The abolition of Title IX is a consequence of rape culture and it further strengthens rape culture. Legally ceasing to help victims of rape and to provide students with an effective program to report sexual abuse denies the gravity of rape as a major issue in society that needs to be addressed and reinforces the belief that rape culture is nonexistent. This, in return, fuels rape culture because it prevents people from acknowledging and actively fighting sexual assault. Therefore, the collective false impression that rape is uncommon is created and rape is normalized since it becomes an unspoken, unresolved, and implicit part of our society. However, the media platforms mentioned in this post can help undermine rape culture since they recognize the frequency of rape by providing statistics and they address it as a social issue by giving victims a voice and universities a way to prevent rape and punish the perpetrators.

If you would like to learn more about rape culture, here is a helpful link on the subject: http://www.wavaw.ca/what-is-rape-culture/

You have done a great job explaining Title XI and how the Trump government will affect this act. Furthermore, you included pertinent statistics that really helped explain the situation and strengthen your argument. You described and explained the purpose of Callisto and Reach Out and how these apps help the victims of campus rapes. Overall, you obviously understand the topic you are writing about well.

To further strengthen your argument, I would consider mentioning the impact of rape culture on society and women in particular. Rape culture is the normalization and trivialization of rape which is done by either blaming the victim, pitying the perpetrator, denying the frequency of rapes, objectifying women, and encouraging sexual violence toward them. I think you should consider mentioning this suggests undermining the concept of consent since men see women as sexual objects that they hold power above. This type of attitude only reinforces the patriarchy which entitles men to hold power in all aspects of life (political, social, familial, cultural, etc.). Rape culture also leads to the false speculation about how the way women dress is to blame for their assault. This makes it increasingly hard for victims to speak out since they believe they will not be taken seriously or dismissed. Rape culture also stimulates self-objectification where women believe they have no worth or identity which leads to low levels of self-confidence, anxiety, body dysmorphia, depression, etc. This sort of behaviour discourages women to seek positions of leadership. To see just how common rape culture is nowadays, here is a link that may help deepen your research: http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/03/examples-of-rape-culture/. Luckily though, the apps you mentioned above address the problem and help victims to speak out.

You have done a great job explaining Title XI and how the Trump government will affect this act. Furthermore, you included pertinent statistics that really helped explain the situation and strengthen your argument. You described and explained the purpose of Callisto and Reach Out and how these apps help the victims of campus rapes. Overall, you obviously understand the topic you are writing about well.

To further strengthen your argument, I would consider mentioning the impact of rape culture on society and women in particular. Rape culture is the normalization and trivialization of rape which is done by either blaming the victim, pitying the perpetrator, denying the frequency of rapes, objectifying women, and encouraging sexual violence toward them. I think you should consider mentioning this suggests undermining the concept of consent since men see women as sexual objects that they hold power above. This type of attitude only reinforces the patriarchy which entitles men to hold power in all aspects of life (political, social, familial, cultural, etc.). Rape culture also leads to the false speculation about how the way women dress is to blame for their assault. This makes it increasingly hard for victims to speak out since they believe they will not be taken seriously or dismissed. Rape culture also stimulates self-objectification where women believe they have no worth or identity which leads to low levels of self-confidence, anxiety, body dysmorphia, depression, etc. This sort of behaviour discourages women to seek positions of leadership. To see just how common rape culture is nowadays, here is a link that may help deepen your research: http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/03/examples-of-rape-culture/. Luckily though, the apps you mentioned above address the problem and help victims to speak out.

About the author

Naomie Tat currently studies Digital Arts & New Media (2D & 3D Animation) at Champlain College Saint-Lambert. She is a Montreal-born International Baccalaureate program high school graduate.