Woah, did you see that? The United States just entered a time warp and now we’re all 50 years back in the past. Weird.
Betsy DeVos (or as my friend affectionately calls her, “Betsy DeWorst”) came through on her promises to change the climate surrounding sexual assault on college campuses and, uh, I don’t know how this is considered progress when all it did was literally take us back to where we were in 2010.
Basically, DeWor—I mean, DeVos reversed key Obama-era guidelines on how universities handled sexual assault, forcing them to address the problem promptly, report sexual assault statistics, and treat assault survivors better. But apparently that’s just too forward-thinking for DeVos, who decided there were better students to protect — as in, those accused of sexual assault.
Now victims will have to bear the burden of proof, finding ways to prove they were assaulted (though, honestly, it’s nearly impossible in most cases), and only those accused of sexual assault are allowed to appeal cases. Considering only 2%-10% of reported sexual assault allegations are false, that’s a whole lot of people who are actually sexually assaulted that are going to have to fight tooth and nail for justice — and who, in the end, probably won’t get it.
So, what does this mean for people on campus? Sexual assault on campus is already sorely underreported, and those numbers will probably rise if sexual assault survivors are offered little protection or help. However, it’s important to know that Title IX (which fights against discrimination based on sex and gender in U.S. universities) still exists, and that there are still resources for sexual assault survivors on campus.
DeVos’s move is a slap in the face for women everywhere, not just because it’s a giant step backward, but because it’s a huge “fuck you” to every person who has ever fought to make their assault validated in the public eye — and every person who will ever have to again. Watching one of the few women in the White House step up to protect not sexual assault survivors but the rapists themselves proves that women have no allies in Trump’s government. After all, if women can’t look to each other for support and protection, who can they rely on?