Proposed changes to affect Title IX at BGSU

Secretary+of+Education+Betsy+Devos.

Secretary of Education Betsy Devos.

Angelica Euseary and Angelica Euseary

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 says no person in the U.S. should be discriminated against, denied or excluded, based on their sex, from any educational programs or activities from universities receiving federal funding.  At an Undergraduate Student Government meeting on Feb. 4, BGSU Title IX Coordinator Jennifer McCary discussed changes that would be made to the law by the U.S. Department of Education.

Title IX has helped college campuses address issues of domestic violence, race and gender equity. Some changes to Title IX include both parties having the right to cross examine and limiting complaints to only formally written ones. Title IX would also only apply to cases that occur on campus or directly within programming or activity related to the university.

“Our code of conduct extends off campus for alcohol and other drugs,” McCary said. “For us it would be interesting to separate those two things. Say someone is sexually assaulted at a party. If they report that someone was drinking underage, off campus at that party, we would address the off-campus drinking, but we would not address the sexual assault.”

The implementation of this rule could have negative effects and limit off-campus students from reporting acts of sexual assault and domestic violence. This rule states that if a student from a university is sexually assaulted off campus, then it will not be in within that university’s Title IX jurisdiction to address the case.  

 “I think it could potentially have a chilling effect,” McCary said. “It could really limit the number of reports that we receive. My bigger concern is that if we aren’t getting the reports, we aren’t going to be able to reach out to folks to provide them with some of those resources and accommodations, because we won’t know.”

The most important change that could possibly be implemented is the definition of domestic violence. Currently the definition of domestic violence is more broad, including acts of financial and emotional damage. Changes to Title IX would define domestic violence only as physical harm.

“My concern is that everyone should be aware,” said Paul Garbarino, speaker of the Senate for USG and managing editor of the BG News. “The definition of domestic violence can be changed, and we just have to abide. That sets a concerning precedence, regardless of the change or what people think. Domestic violence was much broader and included emotional and economical harm. Why did they change it?”

The changes that could be implemented come from the Department of Education, under the leadership of Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. The department received suggestions during its comment and feedback period. These are federal changes the university has to follow once the department considers comments, makes any changes it sees fit and implements the changes.

“These changes will affect any school that receives federal funding of any sort,” said Katie Stygles, Title IX deputy coordinator. “Federal funding includes financial aid, so even most private schools will be affected by these changes.”

The exact changes will be announced from the Department of Education soon. All federally funded schools are waiting to hear back about the results of the feedback period which ended Jan. 28. BGSU and its Title IX leadership understand the effects these changes could have and plan to make sure all students are still supported.

“I genuinely trust our leadership, our Title IX Coordinator Jennifer McCary,” Stygles said. “I believe that she will do everything in her power to make sure that our institution can continue to support all involved parties.