Slotkin Statement on DeVos Rules Rolling Back Title IX Protections Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

May 6, 2020
Press Release

HOLLY, Mich. – U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) today released the following statement after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos moved to finalize rules that roll back protections for sexual assault survivors. DeVos’s rules would have in some cases prohibited Michigan State University from taking action on the Title IX claims against Larry Nassar, who sexually assaulted hundreds of women and girls over the course of 20 years.

"As the representative of the Michigan State University community that has been so deeply affected by sexual assault on campus, I am disappointed that Secretary DeVos has made the decision to finalize her proposed roll-backs to Title IX that will make it harder for survivors to come forward with a successful claim –– and to force these changes on schools already disrupted by a global pandemic.

"While I am still reviewing the over 2000 pages of finalized rules, it is clear that her new rules narrow the definition of sexual harassment and limit the complaints that schools are obligated to investigate.

"Over the past 16 months, I have done everything I could think of to get Secretary DeVos to re-think her proposed changes to Title IX. I have written her letters, issued FOIA requests, entered public comments on the proposed rules, and even met with Secretary DeVos herself a year ago. While I am glad to see that she modified some of her original proposals, I remain concerned that her final changes simply don’t reflect any of the lessons learned from survivors and advocates best positioned to advise the Department of Education." 

"In addition, I have a hard time understanding why Secretary DeVos would choose a moment of national crisis to force our schools to make these changes now, with all the other stresses on our school system. Our schools, students, faculty and staff are already under tremendous strain during an unprecedented public health crisis, so now is not the time for Secretary DeVos to divert her resources, and theirs, toward implementing new rules."