Presidents sign letter opposing rule change
By Nayyab Rai - Staff Reporter
Fifty of Washington`s col- lege presidents, including Highline`s Dr. John Mosby, have asked the Department of Education to not change the sexual assault policy the department already has in place.
"The agreement is in re- sponse to the new regulations provided by the Department of Education under Secretary De- Vos governing the way colleges and universities around the country handle sexual harass- ment and assault," Dr. Mosby said.
U.S. Department of Educa- tion Secretary Betsy DeVos has created a new policy where the accused of sexual crimes have more rights.
The college presidents have written a letter asking her to not enforce it.
"Given that the new guide- lines narrow the definition of sexual harassment and, conse- quently raise the bar for schools to provide harassment and assault claims, I'm concerned this will create an environment where survivors will fail to be heard and report less," Dr. Mos- by said.
"During a meeting with oth- er Washington state presidents,
creating a letter/response to [the] Department of Education was recommended," Dr. Mosby said.
The recommendation let- ter for the sexual assault poli- cy for colleges was thought of and created during the college president`s monthly meeting, where all the presidents gath- er together and talk about how to improve their colleges.
According to an article in the New York Times, the policy that DeVos has proposed leans more to the accused. It gives them more of a chance to defend themselves if they are accused of sexual harassment/assault.
The policies that DeVos wants lets the accused have more rights. It is to help even out the playing field in sexual harassment and assault cases, DeVos said, according to the article.
With the new policies from DeVos, the accusers need ir- refutable proof that they were harassed or attacked, mak- ing it much more difficult for them to come forward and tell their stories.
"The new guidelines nar- row the definition of sexual harassment and allow schools to raise the bar for prov- ing harassment and assault claims," Dr. Mosby said.
"Highline will continue to follow the guidelines re- quired by the Department of Education and address any allegations of sexual assault throughout Title IX process," Dr. Mosby said.
Title IX is part of the Ed- ucation Amendments of 1972. It banned schools from dis- criminating on the basis of gender, no matter the reason.
Dr. Mosby said that a new policy should help Highline students, staff, and faculty be able to understand what sex- ual harassment/assault really is.
"My hope is the policy will provide [a] clear definition of sexual harassment and as- sault, along with guidelines to support a fair process for all parties involved," Dr. Mosby said.
With sexual assault being so common at campuses all over, Highline`s Public Safety and Emergency Management are working to help victims through their attacks.
"When an assault is re- ported, we have to be careful, because we need the victim`s permission to go forward with anything," said Director of Public Safety and Emergency Management David Menke.
"If a victim does not allow for us to bring charges against the accused, then we cannot in any way engage with the accused," Menke said. "We cannot treat him any differ- ently from another student."
When a student does not allow us to intervene, they also forego any court protec- tions, he said.
"It really just depends on how far the victim is willing to go, they might want to have a restraining order and not arrest him, or just let him go completely," Menke said.
"Violence Against Wom- en Act (VALA) and the Clery Act were created with good intentions. They do sort of lean towards the victims, but they are intended to protect them from any further trau- ma," said Associate Director of Public Safety and Emer- gency Management Francesca Fender.
Whenever violent crime is committed, Public Safety is required to report to campus. "We put in the Clery log,
where all violent crimes are reported, because this way people can choose whether or not they wish to come here," Menke said.
Highline itself does not have many assaults. One rape reported was last year, accord- ing to the Clery Act Crime Statistics for the college.
"However, those are only the ones that have been re- ported," Menke said.
"It is rather unfortunate for victims to not report their attacks, because it allows the attacker to go free, and may- be somewhere else. This way, they can attack anyone and no one would be the wiser," Menke said.
"I completely, 100 percent agree with the President Mos- by on his idea. If victims get too afraid to talk because of the lack of evidence, then sex- ual crimes will run rampant," Menke said.
"It is so difficult to get solid evidence of the attack, unless it was reported right away, and not many victims say that they were attacked the minute after they were," Menke said.
If you are ever sexually harassed or assaulted, go to Public Safety in Building 6, first floor and/or call 911.