The prevalence of sexual violence is a major problem for the University. Under the Obama administration, the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter clarified guidelines for universities handling cases of sexual assault, instructing schools and colleges to investigate all complaints more thoroughly. But on Sept. 7, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the rollback of some of those guidelines, claiming that the definition of sexual assault and harassment imposed by the “Dear Colleague” letter is unclear and too broad. Today, we feature perspectives from student leaders who argue that DeVos’ remarks represent a troubling shift that will actively hurt survivors of sexual assault, both here at UT and across the nation.
First, we interview Mia Goldstein, the president of the student organization affiliated with Voices Against Violence. Goldstein argues that the Department of Education’s proposed rollbacks might prevent survivors of sexual assault from coming forward because they perceive that the administration will not be sufficiently supportive, even if the University’s policies will stay the same in reality.
Next, we feature guest columnist Rajya Atluri, the director of Student Government’s Women’s Resource Agency, who argues that DeVos’ focus on the accused portrays a false sense of reality. She states that this is a step back for sexual assault prevention, clearly sending the message that survivors are not a priority under the new administration.
For our final column, guest columnist Colton Becker reflects on the legacy of Harrison Brown, soon after what would have been his 20th birthday. He remembers Harrison as a friend who lived with purpose and highlights three uplifting lessons from Harrison’s life that we can all learn from.
As always, we want to hear your thoughts about this or anything else. Email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nemawarkar is a Plan II and government junior from Austin. Shirvaikar is a math and economics junior from Frisco.