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Federal guidance, enforcement are crucial tools for overdue reform on campus assault

In his July 20 Opinion column about campus sexual assault, Dante Ramos misrepresented the law as well as its importance (“Will DeVos fix Obama’s toxic campus sexual assault policy?”). For decades, the civil rights law Title IX has required schools to address sexual violence. Until 2011, though, the federal government gave the issue little attention, and colleges freely disregarded survivors’ rights. As a result, too many students missed crucial opportunities to learn. This backdrop prompted the Department of Education to send a letter to remind schools of their responsibilities and make clear the agency meant business.

That letter and increased department enforcement are crucial tools for overdue reform on campus. Now a handful of people claim schools have violated the rights of students accused of sexual violence. To the extent colleges mistreat students involved in either side of a disciplinary complaint, sexual or not, that injustice must be corrected. Title IX, which requires that schools adopt a process that is prompt, fair, and equitable, is part of the solution, not the problem.


None of the fair-process violations courts have identified derived from Title IX guidance, and in many cases they directly contradict it. Rolling back Title IX protections won’t ensure fair process, but enforcing the law and helping schools get it right will.

Fatima Goss Graves
President and CEO
National Women’s Law Center
Washington, D.C.