What DeVos gets DeWrong about campus sexual assault


Photo credit/ Carolyn Warcup

Vanessa Lynn Rodriguez, Contributor

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delivered a speech at the Antonin Scalia Law School in Virginia on Thursday, Sept. 7. DeVos’ speech addressed the flaws in the procedures colleges use to deal with campus sexual assault.

Many of DeVos’ points at the beginning of her speech were agreeable, such as the importance of seeking justice for those who have been sexually assaulted. However, some of her other statements created problems.

She began with a powerful statement about how no person, regardless of race or sex, should be excluded or denied any participation or benefits regarding college education due to discrimination.

This statement is the root of Title IX itself. DeVos proceeded to highlight how powerful and valuable Title IX is and its role of maintaining “every students’ right to learn in a safe environment.”

All was well until she started to show sympathy for the accused, rather than the victims of sexual assault.

This doesn’t come as a surprise considering she has met with the National Coalition for Men (NCM), a group specializing in the men’s rights movement. What is most disturbing is that the NCM believes that accusations of sexual assault can potentially hurt young men and violate their civil rights.

By empathizing with those accused of sexual assaults, DeVos sheds light on her contradictory personal views.

DeVos discussed how flawed the college system is when determining if students accused of sexual assault are innocent or guilty. She said she believes that these cases should be taken to federal court instead of leaving the responsibility in the hands of college administrations, who in her opinion have no experience in judging someone in accordance with the law.

While this can be seen as a positive stance, DeVos stills finds a way to sneak in her views on the importance of the potential damage sexual assault accusations have on a man’s life.

Why would anyone send DeVos to talk about sexual assault on campus to a college crowd that may consist of possible victims of sexual assault? In sexual assault cases, we should be worrying about the victim who should see their rapist go to jail.

DeVos speaks about how traumatic the experience of sexual assault is and how it impacts the victim’s life, but every time she attempts to get anywhere with her speech, she reverts back to defending the accused. This is problematic because her stance on sexual assault remains neutral, and even empathetic toward the accused.

There are cases of male students being wrongfully accused, but how many of those cases exist compared to actual cases of true sexual assault?

According to the Washington Post, “The Making a Difference Project, which used data collected by law enforcement agencies over 18 to 24 months, found seven percent of cases that were classified as false.”

Yes, one’s reputation can be altered by being wrongly accused of sexual assault, but this is nothing compared to what actual victims face. Many victims of sexual assault can’t live their life to the fullest. Their trust, perception of self and their relationships with others are never the same. Some even battle emotional, psychological and physical reactions as a result of being sexual assaulted.

DeVos had a duty to fulfill and she embarrassingly failed at it. Instead of being a powerhouse and a defender for women who have been sexually assaulted, she plays both sides as she sees fit to serve her own interests. She speaks to bring awareness to campus sexual assault while sneakily injecting her own views in order to make others feel bad for the rapists of society, and ultimately downplay what victims of sexual assault face.

This is what makes her untrustworthy. This is what makes her DeWrong.

Contact the writer: [email protected]