Title IX Coordinator’s statement regarding Betsy DeVos’s September 7 speech re Title IX enforcement

The speech U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave at George Mason University on Thursday, September 7 has generated significant interest and concern as to what lies ahead for UofL and other colleges and universities in their handling of sexual misconduct claims brought by students. As UofL’s Title IX Coordinator, I think it appropriate to inject some clarity to the significance of Secretary DeVos’s remarks, and, I hope, reassurance regarding UofL’s ongoing commitment to creating and maintaining a safe and non-discriminatory environment for our students to live, learn, work and play in.

The bulk of the DeVos speech focused on the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX’s requirements in the area of sexual violence, which were set forth by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in its April 4, 2011 “Dear Colleague Letter” (DCL) to college and university administrators nationwide. The DCL stated, in considerable detail, what is expected of colleges and universities in their responses to sexual assault, their policies and procedures for responding to allegations of sexual misconduct, their investigation and adjudication of sexual misconduct cases, the supports offered and accommodations extended to survivors of sexual misconduct, and schools’ ongoing efforts to assess and improve their campus climate for all students, through trainings, informational programming, and other means.

DeVos’s remarks and subsequent social media posts indicate that the current administration intends to rescind or significantly amend the DCL through the implementation of new administrative regulations. However, no changes to the law have been made or decided upon at this point, and it is uncertain what changes will ultimately be proposed, or when they will be adopted. In any event, please be assured that the university’s commitment to fostering an environment that minimizes the likelihood of sexual assault and to responding appropriately, effectively and holistically when it occurs is in no way diminished. We will continue to apply our policies and procedures as vigorously yet fairly as ever, we will continue to support students who are assault survivors as we do now, and we will continue to implement a robust programming and training agenda related to sexual assault and alcohol awareness, bystander intervention strategies, and improving the safety of the campus climate generally. Any eventual changes to the law, to the extent those changes conflict with our existing policies and practices, will be addressed as appropriate when they occur. In the meantime, I am happy to respond to any questions, suggestions or concerns you might have, and encourage you to contact me as you see fit.

Thank you all for doing your parts as we continue to strive to make UofL the safest, most inclusive learning environment it can be.

Title IX and ADA Coordinator

University of Louisville

Student Activities Center, Suite W301

2100 S. Floyd Street

Louisville, Kentucky 40208

Office Hours

M-F 8:00am to 5:00 pm

No holiday hours

Phone

tel (502) 852-5787

tel (502) 852-1429