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Warner on Trump administration’s rollback of protections for sexual assault survivors

(© W. Scott McGill –

The Trump administration has issued the final regulation detailing the responsibilities of elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities for addressing sexual harassment and assault that “inappropriately limits the situations in which schools must act to address sexual misconduct and allows a number of practices that will make campus adjudication processes less supportive of survivors,” Sen. Mark Warner said Wednesday.

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, colleges and universities have a legal obligation to provide an environment free from discrimination because of sex. Over the past two decades, both Democratic and Republican administrations have interpreted the law and provided guidance to encourage survivors to come forward and report – until now.

“With regard to the serious issues of sexual assault and harassment, the needs of survivors must come first. The administration’s failure with this final rule affects students of all ages and is a serious deviation from its responsibility,” said Warner, D-Va.

Sexual assault on college and university campuses and in K-12 schools is notoriously underreported and, too often, adjudication processes and survivor support services vary from campus to campus, making fairness and transparency all the more elusive.

The rule handed down Wednesday “recklessly violates the intent behind Title IX to ensure educational equity for all students,” Warner said.

“With so many students away from their physical learning settings due to COVID-19, we may not immediately see the full impact of this misguided regulation. But make no mistake: it undoubtedly makes students less safe,” Warner said.