Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
Just a few days ago, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos indicated she will revoke and rewrite the Obama administration's Title IX guidelines, which regulated how colleges and universities investigate campus sexual misconduct. Obama's Department of Education threatened to withhold federal funding if universities didn't establish a procedure for evaluating sexual assault complaints. It also required that institutions of higher learning use the preponderance of the evidence standard to resolve complaints of sexual violence. The policy was a big step in the right direction regarding college rape culture and victim-blaming.
President Trump's administration is transforming this country into one where minorities are no longer safe. If you are not straight, cisgender, white or male, you've received repeated "fuck yous" from this administration, and DeVos' announcement is nothing different.
DeVos is a woman whose actions indicate she does not care about women's rights. By rescinding Title IX protections, she is making colleges unsafe for women while propagating a wrongful system. Only 20 percent of female rape victims in the United States report their assaults, and that is because the system is rigged against them. The police, college administrations and assaulters tell women that their assault is a personal issue, that it can't be proven, that they shouldn't have dressed a certain way and that they asked for it.
We accept no bullshit in America when violence occurs against straight white men, but we're quick to blame people of color for the violence against them. The same is true with women. The first thing many people ask a woman who has been raped is what she did to provoke it. Obama's Title IX guidelines were necessary steps toward changing this culture, but DeVos has shown she does not care.
By easing federal pressure to take sexual assault seriously, DeVos will only legitimize victim blaming and raise the standards by which one can define rape. More than one in four women in colleges across the country are raped and, without strong Title IX enforcement, schools can sweep these women under the rug to protect their institution's reputation.
Obama's Title IX guidelines certainly didn't solve everything, but the Trump administration has no regard for the progress the guidelines spurred.
The Trump administration is full of privileged individuals, and many of them do not understand what it feels like to be a minority in this country. So many people in this country no longer feel safe in their own communities, whether because they are queer, a person of color or a woman. At this point in the 21st century, students shouldn't be afraid of wearing something too provocative because the government wants to protect the rights of rapists over victims.
Here at the University of Maryland, Title IX has proven helpful while still requiring many improvements. A Diamondback story about a sexual assault victim and her struggle with the Title IX reporting system revealed the pain and inefficiencies embedded in the process.
That being said, this university has expelled a record number of students for crimes of sexual violence through Title IX. What DeVos wants, however, is to increase protections for the accused when the system is still failing the victims. False rape accusations are extremely rare, and rape victims face far more injustice than those accused. Her priorities are all wrong.
Obama's Title IX guidelines forced colleges to acknowledge a woman can do nothing to make her culpable for being assaulted. These guidelines were a major step toward combating dangerous college rape culture. Title IX was made to give women an education free from violence — a basic right. But DeVos has revealed that the Trump administration only cares about some of its constituents, not all of them.
Liyanga de Silva is a sophomore English major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.