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Betsy DeVos Hints How She Will Handle Campus Rape Guidelines, And It's Not Good

Betsy DeVos has already sparked plenty of concern about how she will deal with campus sexual assault, thanks to a rocky confirmation hearing where she refused to give a firm answer on the subject.

And now, the secretary of education is reportedly scheduling meetings with sexual assault survivor advocacy groups such as Know Your IX and End Rape On Campus — and the National Coalition for Men, a men's rights group with an alarming past, according to Politico.

The move — to include a group that seems to be hostile to victims of sexual assault, most of whom are women — is another thing to worry advocates such as Senator Bob Casey. It may be a signal that DeVos is getting ready to defang Obama's guidance on campus sexual assault, rather than strengthen it.

In the eight years that Barack Obama was in office, he aggressively strengthened civil rights protections in educational settings, using the power of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act to enact regulations and guidances on campus sexual assault, transgender student protections, and more.

His guidance on campus sexual assault mandated that colleges take more concrete steps to help victims of sexual assault.

The move was particularly controversial, with critics calling it federal overreach.

In this light, NCFM, which has been operating since 1977, and whose mission is to raise “awareness about the ways sex discrimination affects men and boys” seems like a worrisome choice to discuss the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses, due to their history of inflating false accusation numbers and intimidating survivors of sexual assault.

The group claims that upwards of 31 percent of rape accusations are false or unfounded, even though the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI put the number between 2 and 8 percent.

And part of their advocacy for victims of false accusations has been a campaign to out survivors of sexual assault, publishing names and photos along with informations about alleged assaults. Outing survivors can be re-traumatizing and even downright dangerous, and the actions of NCFM put their targets (all of whom women) at risk of retaliatory violence.

DeVos has also invited Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) Services, which is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a misogynistic website, part of what they dub the “Manosphere.” SAVE has lobbied to roll back domestic violence protections for women in order to “return focus to the true victims” — the falsely accused.

Other groups DeVos is meeting with, such as Know Your IX, are advocacy groups to help survivors.

They train survivors to become activists, educate students on their legal rights under Title IX, and advocate for policy that helps victims of sexual assault, which makes the presence of groups like NCFM and SAVE stick out like sore thumbs.

Advocates are worried that the Department of Education under Trump will all but dissolve — and with it, protection for the nation's most vulnerable students. Just recently, DeVos suspended Borrower Defense to Repayment Rules, an Obama-era program which made it easier for defrauded students to seek loan forgiveness, and the White House's 2018 proposed budget would slash loan forgiveness programs and the department's budget.

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Lisa Dunn

Staff Writer

Lisa is a news writer based in Portland, Oregon. She is currently researching and writing about abortion for her MFA in Creative Nonfiction.
Lisa is a news writer based in Portland, Oregon. She is currently researching and writing about abortion for her MFA in Creative Nonfiction.

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