Denver, CO — Today, the Trump administration announced new proposals for how schools will be expected to handle allegations of sexual harassment and assault. The new rules are likely to replace Obama-era policies under Title IX – the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive federal funding.
“These proposed changes are deeply concerning and, once again, take us in the wrong direction,” said Senator-elect Winter. “They would make it more difficult for victims to report sexual harassment and assault and possibly lead to retaliation against those who do report. While we brought forward legislation last session that would have enacted meaningful change, it died in a Republican-led Senate. I am confident that will not be the case in 2019.”
“Enough is enough,” said Senator-elect Pettersen. “It is clear that the Trump administration isn’t serious about addressing the pervasive issue of sexual assault and harassment on college campuses. If Washington won’t act, Colorado will.”
During the 2018 legislative session, then-Representative Winter sponsored – along with outgoing Speaker Crisanta Duran, Senator Beth Martinez Humenick, and Senator Andy Kerr – HB18-1391, a bill that would have require each institution of higher education to adopt, periodically review, and update a policy on sexual misconduct. The bill passed the House and failed in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Senators-elect Winter and Pettersen plan to bring back a similar bill during the 2019 legislative session to ensure students on college campuses in Colorado are protected.
Title IX has helped many victims of sexual assault and harassment find comfort including three brave survivors who shared their stories with the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA):
“Previous Title IX guidance ensured that I did not have to spend the next four years of my undergraduate experience paralyzed by having to see my rapist on campus on a daily basis. The proposed rules published today by the U.S. Department of Education do not prioritize student safety and will afford no such right to future campus sexual assault survivors. I would not have reported if these recommendations were in place which would mean that the man who raped me would still be roaming a college campus here in Denver. These guidelines will protect violent individuals on campuses and allow them to us their privileged identities to get away with behaviors worthy of expulsion.” – Ken Fowler.
“Three years ago, I walked into the Title IX Office in a Colorado School of Higher Education two weeks before the end of my freshman year. The Title IX Coordinator assured me I would be able to finish my finals and feel safe on my campus for the remainder of the semester and upon returning my sophomore year. I am shocked by the proposed rules issued today by the U.S. Department of Education as these changes will make campuses less safe for survivors to access a meaningful education. Colorado schools must strengthen protections for survivors of campus sexual assault to ensure our campuses can continue to do the tremendous work of keeping students safe and providing them with a violence-free education.” – Grace Glaser
“I am currently serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru and I am also a survivor of sexual assault. Title IX helped me get through college and continue on to service. Undermining basic protections and human rights afforded to survivors under Title IX will rob the United States of a generation of leaders.” – Olivia Storz