Secretary Betsy DeVos announced new Title IX regulations today, in hopes to empower victims of sexual assault to come forward and have their allegations taken seriously.
"The new Title IX regulation holds schools accountable for failure to respond equitably to sexual misconduct incidents and ensures a transparent, reliable adjudication process that is fair to all students,” said DeVos.
Reporting something to Title IX may now look completely different today then it did six years ago, when former Utah State University student, Morgan Klinkowski first reported she had been raped.
“With Utah State, it didn’t go well,” said Klinkowski.
Klinkowski was sexually assaulted in October of 2014 while doing homework in her apartment with her colleague at USU.
It was two years before Klinkowski said the university took her allegations seriously.
“It was really overwhelming,” said Klinkowski. “It was demeaning. It was frustrating. There was nothing you could do about it.”
Essentially, Klinkowski was “lost in the system.”
“Every step in the system is saying, ‘you’re wrong, we’re going to tweak this situation here because we think it’s what’s better for you,’” said Klinkowski. “It’s too big to wrap your arms around and it’s super overwhelming.”
Other students have gone through something similar.
“Too many have lost access to their education because their school inadequately responded when a student filed a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual assault,” said Secretary DeVos.
The most notable changes in the Title IX system announced by DeVos include:
- broadening the definition of sexual harassment to include sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking as unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex.
- Holding colleges responsible for sexual harassment that happens off-campus, in houses owned by fraternities and sororities
- Protecting survivors from having to come face-to-face with their accused during hearings and questioning by the Title IX Office.
“I really hope these new guidelines that came in from that investigation will help keep Utah State on their toes, to keep their students safe and well cared for,” said Klinkowski.
In a statement, a USU spokesperson wrote they have been working for several years on “transforming the university’s efforts to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct. We are currently reviewing the new guidance to evaluate its impact on our Title IX policies and procedures.”
Klinkowski said she has been involved in many conversations for changes with USU.
“Their whole goal now, is to make sure the student is safe,” said Klinkowski. “I think that’s really interesting because when I met with them it didn’t feel like that was the goal.”