Following the Department of Education’s recent proposed changes to Title IX, students and organizers conversed and crafted comments on Saturday at a “comment party,” co-hosted by the Title IX office and the Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia.
“This is an opportunity for students to come in and make sure that they know what those [proposed] changes look like,” Assistant Director of Education Outreach for the Title IX office Tiffany Street said. “There’s some stuff that we would like to be clarified and we wanted to make sure students had a platform on campus to come in and see that I am available to help clarify.”
In November 2018, Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education released proposed changes to Title IX, with intentions of improving the current school policy on sexual assault and harassment nationwide.
Changes on Active Avoidance Orders, cross-examination, and the definition of sexual assault and harassment were some of the central topics in DeVos’ proposal heavily discussed at the comment party.
Most attendees worked in one large group, rallying and refining ideas, but others decided to work independently after some conversation.
“I just felt we were doing a lot of talking and not a lot of acting,” sophomore Anna Remus said. “It was very relevant to have a discussion, but I feel like I know what I want to say and I’m ready to say it.”
The comment period for the proposed Title IX changes is 60 days after the publication date. Due to the ongoing government shutdown there has been some delay to this time, and the current deadline is Jan. 28.
Many attendees had issues with the combination of poor advertisement and inconvenient time frame for the comment period, but did extensive work and research to comment regardless.
“[The comment] period was overlapping with our reading [period] and our finals week and break. [I] wouldn’t have time to do research, read the 144 page document, or even a summary and do enough research to put in a proper comment.”
Senior Austin Ponce had similar comments to make, emphasizing the advertisement of the Title IX proposed changes.
“I think that a larger issue is perhaps a lot of people aren’t even aware that the Department of Education is soliciting the comments in this period,” Ponce said. “They don’t seem to be actively inviting feedback.”
Ponce added that despite any problems caused by the time slot of the comment period, people are trying to make a difference in whatever way they can.
“At the end of the day politics is local,” Ponce said. “Even if the Department of Education and current administration do not want to hear what we have to say or have no interest in implementing […] on [our] questions and concerns, we can at the very least try to make an impact here on campus.”