The VRLC's Public Comment to the Department of Education

Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education recently released regressive proposed regulations concerning Title IX and how educational institutions are expected to respond to sexual harassment, including sexual assault and rape. The VRLC opposes the majority of the Department’s proposed changes and recently filed a public comment arguing against the implementation of these regulations. 

If implemented, the proposed regulations would:

  • Drastically narrow the definition of sexual harassment such that only very extreme behavior would trigger an institution’s obligation to respond;
  • Eliminate an employee’s responsibility to report known incidents of sexual harassment or sexual violence and make reporting sexual assault and rape significantly more difficult for victims;
  • Allow a victim to be cross-examined by a representative of the accused individual, including family members or fraternity brothers;
  • Make it more difficult for institutions to be held accountable when they fail to respond adequately or fairly to sexual assault and rape allegations, while simultaneously reducing the responsibility of institutions to act on allegations of sexual assault and rape;
  • Require institutions to dismiss cases where conduct occurred off campus or in a study abroad program.

The deadline for submitting public comments is February 15, 2019, at 11:59pm. For all submissions, please include the Docket ID number ED-2018-OCR-0064 at the top of your comment. 

Anyone can submit a public comment. The more that are submitted, the better! Feel free to use the VRLC’s public comment as a starting point or to craft something entirely original. We encourage you to choose a topic you feel strongly about and incorporate personal stories, if you feel comfortable. It is important to demonstrate to Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education just how harmful these regulations will be to survivors.

To submit your comment electronically:

  • Click here and search for “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance” in the search bar.
  • Once you have found it, click on the “Comment Now” button on the right side of the page.
  • That will bring you to a page where you can provide the text of your comment or upload and attach it (or both) and then fill out information about yourself or your organization.
  • Submit!
  • Once you submit your comment, you will be given a tracking number to follow up on the status of your comment.

If you would like to mail in your comment, please address it to: Brittany Bull, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 6E310, Washington, DC 20202.

Again, commenters must submit comments: between 12:00 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. EST on February 15, 2019 if submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal; or between 9:00a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST on February 15, 2019 if hand delivered; or postmarked on February 15, 2019 if delivered by postal mail or commercial delivery.