U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed modifications to the Title IX regulations as reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s November 16th article by Sarah Brown and Katherine Mangan.
There are many proposed changes I could discuss at length but for brevity I’ll only choose one; the new definition of sexual harassment:
The definition of sexual harassment colleges are required to act on would be narrower.The new rules would define sexual harassment to include “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity.” The Obama administration defined harassment as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.”
Since when did an unwelcome act have to deny a person access to education to be counted as sexual harassment at college? To provide clarity, I Googled the definition of sexual harassment and this is what I found:
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as follows:
It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.
Wikipedia defines sexual harassment as follows:
Sexual harassment is bullying or coercion of a sexual nature and the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. Sexual harassment includes a range of actions from mild transgressions to sexual abuse or assault. A harasser may be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a client or customer. Harassers or victims may be of any gender.
Merriam-Webster defines sexual harassment as follows:
uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate (such as an employee or student)
In none of these definitions is sexual harassment further restricted to apply only when it denies a person’s access to education. I personally feel that adding this new requirement will make it harder for victims to prove they were sexually assaulted. This sort of governmental manipulation of regulations is potentially harmful to the rights of all victims and should not be allowable.