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IU students share opinion on proposed title IX changes



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Students listen to Michael Jefferson, president of Students for Equity in Student Affairs, during a meeting Jan. 28 in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. The meeting allowed students to give input on changes to Title IX. Alexa Ennis Buy Photos

Students shared their outrage Monday evening about proposed changes to Title IX and discussed how the modifications could affect IU’s Title IX sexual assault reporting procedures. 

U.S Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed changes to Title IX on Nov. 16.

The amendment changes Title IX’s definition of sexual harassment to “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the school's education program or activity.” 

The definition used to be more broad and included unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. This new definition could make it more difficult for students to report cases of sexual misconduct. 

Students for Equity in Public Affairs, a group dedicated to improving the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, facilitated the discussion at SPEA about the newly proposed Title IX sexual violence rules. 

The Department of Education allows a public comment time on these changes before they are finalized. Monday was the last day for comments on these revisions.  

Graduate student Emily Mulligan said last year she was followed at night and severely harassed by a student, and she felt IU didn’t care until she threatened to get a lawyer. She said the man who harassed her still attends IU. 

“Not all universities are like this,” Mulligan said. 

She said she will never send her children to IU because of they way the university handled her case.  

Junior Ellie Johnson, organizer of “Shatter the Silence,” said she attended Monday’s event to advocate for survivors. Shatter the Silence was a movement she started on social media after being vocal about her experience.  

“I really believe that despite this proposed legislation, IU has the power to drastically decrease sexual violence, and they are more than capable of doing right for their students,” Johnson said.  

After explaining the changes to Title IX and possible repercussions of the changes, Michael Jefferson, president of the group who organized the event, asked the crowd what its first response to the changes were.

Answers included: “angry," “we need to stop this,” and “very short-sighted.” 

Jefferson said these responses and the others collected in an online survey will be shared with an IU Student Government and Culture of Care Sexual Misconduct Student Working Group and SPEA administrators. Attendees were also given ten minutes to write and send a response to the site facilitating the public comments. 

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