In response to new proposed plans on Title IX regulations, ASUC officials left Berkeley on Monday morning to Capitol Hill to lobby for more comprehensive regulations.
The Office of the ASUC External Affairs Vice President, or EAVP, and Student Advocate Sophie Bandarkar explained to congressional staffers the possible effects brought by the forthcoming amendments to federal Title IX guidelines.
The ASUC officials were joined by Claire Chevallier, a UC Davis student and the undergraduate representative on the systemwide Title IX advisory board.
“This is the time to make changes in Title IX to negate harmful effects of the Department of Education … to promote legislation that will help improve and strengthen Title IX policies,” said EAVP Nuha Khalfay.
As first reported by The New York Times in August, the Department of Education’s new policies — proposals written by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos — would bolster rights of accused, narrow the definition of sexual harassment, limit the reach of Title IX to campus grounds and hold schools accountable only for formal complaints filed through proper authorities.
The New York Times stated that these policies are to decrease liability on behalf of campuses under Title IX.
Mark Green, EAVP national affairs director, said the EAVP office was prompted by The New York Times story to lobby to the legislation. According to Khalfay, the ASUC also called for confidential care advocates and other avenues of support for survivors.
“Survivors … have the most at stake in these policies,” Green said.
The U.S. Department of Education added interim updates to the Campus Sexual Misconduct Guidance in September 2017 that stated that schools have the discretion to choose the legal standard by which evidence in a sexual misconduct case would be measured.
The updated interim guidelines also give both parties the right to cross-examine each other while resolving allegations.
“Schools have the discretion to apply either the preponderance of the evidence standard or the clear and convincing evidence standard,” the guidelines stated.
According to Bandarkar and Khalfay, the ASUC met with representatives of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and the Department of Education. Bandarkar argued that every student should care about Title IX and that the issue is not limited to survivors.
The EAVP advocated for survivor-centered confidential care, Khalfay said. She added that her office relied on testimonies in order to give the legislative body a student perspective on Title IX.
Bandarkar stated that they are working to raise more public comments to voice the student body’s concerns to the Office of Management and Budget.
“We really try to bring student experiences,” Green said. “We really try … to humanize Title IX … for senators and congresspeople.”