UPUA Issues Statement Urging Department Of Education To ‘Revisit’ Title IX Regulations

The University Park Undergraduate Association issued a statement Friday afternoon urging the United States Department of Education to rework recently revised Title IX regulations focusing on sexual assault on college campuses.

“Acts of sexual assault, misconduct, harassment, and other forms of sexual violence remain pervasive on Penn State’s campus,” President Zach McKay and Vice President Lexy Pathickal wrote in a joint statement. “It is critical that survivors are both heard and respected, and that the federal guidelines which universities like ours abide by instill responsibility and accountability in preventing these acts and supporting all collegiate survivors of them.”

McKay and Pathickal added they believe perpetrators of sexual assault should be held accountable for more than “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive acts.” According to them, universities such as Penn State should work to combat rape culture and address acts of violence rather than being “deliberately indifferent.”

Earlier this month, Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos recently released a new set of regulations regarding Title IX, including new protections for those accused of committing sexually violent acts. The policies have been criticized for narrowing the scope of what can be defined as sexual harassment.

Additionally, Devos’ regulations expanded the procedures for resolving complaints. The new language doesn’t specifically require coaches, educators, or employees at universities to report allegations of sexual misconduct, providing them with a stark increase in discretion when reporting.

“Students deserve better — they deserve transparency, greater protective measures, committed task forces, and administrative accountability; federal Title IX guidelines can and should enable this,” McKay and Pathickal wrote.

Another important change is that universities are solely responsible for responding to incidents that allegedly occurred on campus or in an off-campus location related to the school’s activities. This does not include, for example, off-campus housing.

“Off-campus assaults should also be addressed with rigor and persistence — and universities must be given the ability to protect their students by doing so,” UPUA’s statement reads.

Earlier this spring, the Department of Education found Penn State failed to protect students and address their complaints of sexual abuse over the past few years. The department ordered Penn State to make “major changes” to its Title IX policies in the coming years.

“We — and the UPUA — will always stand in support of victims of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and any other form of sexual violence,” McKay and Pathical wrote.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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