Campus Current

SGA President signs letter to federal official

Raquel Hamner, Photo Editor

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Student Government President Johnathan O’Dea has signed a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Education objecting to her proposed revision to Title IX guidelines.

More than 200 student presidents from across the country signed letter, saying the revision, which would rescind an Obama-era requirement that colleges collect a “preponderance of evidence” against someone accused of sexual assault, would make it harder to prosecute them.

O’Dea agrees with the letter’s author that lifting the Obama Administration’s revision allows school administrators the chance “to prioritize [avoiding] bad publicity over holding perpetrators responsible for their actions.”

“I felt like the [2011 Obama] revision stripped away some due process [for accused offenders], but I do know that we need set guidelines,” O’Dea told Campus Current. “There are several solutions that can enable us to protect our students. This talks about ‘upholding the spirit of past guidelines that empower survivors’. We want to keep the spirit of these past guidelines, but it’s not entirely stripping out the possibility that some changes need to be made.”

The Obama process made it easier for offenders to be found guilty, and was meant to relieve some of the stress victims may feel about reporting their assaults.

With DeVos’ revision, schools would be able to choose their own standard of required evidence, and opt for higher standards, making it harder to prosecute.

“I have mixed feelings” said Tatiana Davenport, second-year nursing student. “If I was assaulted and someone told me I needed, say, 70 percent of the evidence [to point directly to my attacker], I know I wouldn’t come forward. But if we only require 50 percent [as in the Obama process], is that really fair to the accused?”

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SGA President signs letter to federal official