The letter is in response to DeVos’ Sept. 7 announcement that she plans to rescind Title IX guidelines that include the Obama-era Dear Colleague Letter. The 2011 letter is a comprehensive set of guidelines that helps universities, victims and students accused of sexual assault navigate the reporting process.
Senators who signed the letter include Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). The signers are 13 women and 16 men, all Democrats except for Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
“The current guidance is critical to ensuring that schools understand and take seriously their responsibilities under the law, and we urge you to leave the current guidance in place,” the letter reads. “Rescinding the guidance would be a step in the wrong direction in addressing the national epidemic of campus sexual assault.”
The letter added that DeVos’ recent announcement shows she is not dedicated to “a fully transparent process” and isn’t committed to “supporting survivors in obtaining justice and ensuring they are safe on campus.”
Read the letter in full below.
Gillibrand wrote a scathing essay in Cosmopolitan.com Wednesday criticizing DeVos for planning to roll back Title IX. She wrote that DeVos is making an “enormous mistake.”
“With so many sexual assaults still happening on college campuses all over the country,” Gillibrand wrote, “we should be doing everything we can to make our sexual assault prevention and enforcement policies stronger ― not weakening them, not jeopardizing them, and certainly not taking them away.”