Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Bob Casey is sending the below letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos reiterating the strong points he made at her confirmation hearing and condemning her meeting tomorrow with groups such as the National Campaign for Men.
Dear Secretary DeVos:
I write today to express my serious concern at your continued refusal to commit to upholding the protections currently in place to prevent sexual assault and support victims. I want to reiterate a point I made to you at your confirmation hearing: any rollback of protections for victims of campus sexual assault is completely unacceptable, and your refusal to express support for federal protections for victims of sexual assault does a disservice to the women and men who have bravely spoken out about their own experiences in order to end this injustice.
I understand that you will be meeting this week with a number of stakeholders, including survivor advocacy groups, but also including groups that are dedicated to overturning the important protections for survivors, some of whom employ aggressive and repulsive tactics such as publicly identifying victims of sexual assault. I am deeply distressed that you would entertain groups that have been characterized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “misogynistic.” It is disturbing that the Department of Education would place these radical groups on the same level as those working tirelessly to confront the crisis of sexual assault on our campuses. Inviting these groups, such as the National Campaign for Men, is a slap in the face to the victims of campus sexual assault and the Department of Education should reverse course. Instead of catering to organizations that want to sweep sexual assaults on college campuses under the rug, the Department of Education should confront this challenge directly by coming to uphold the protections currently in place.
I reiterate my request that you publicly commit to fully supporting and enforcing the law. I ask for your written assurances that the Department of Education will continue to conduct Title IX investigations, both proactively and based on specific complaints filed with the Office for Civil Rights. I also ask for your commitment to keep in place the guidance issued in the 2011 Dear Colleague letter outlining the responsibilities of institutions of higher education to protect their students from gender discrimination (including sexual violence).
I am including a copy of an open letter from 114 survivors of sexual assault, including five women from Pennsylvania, published this week in Teen Vogue, which I urge you to consider carefully as it details concerns of the survivor community. We have made significant progress in the last several years, starting with the passage of my Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act in 2013, but unfortunately we have not yet ended campus sexual assault. It is not the time to roll back protections for victims.
Given the importance of this issue and the fact that students will be returning to college campuses across the country next month, I request a response to this letter by July 31, 2017.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator