The ASUC released a letter Oct. 31 on behalf of UC Berkeley students in an effort to take a stance against pending Title IX legislation.
ASUC External Affairs Vice President, or EAVP, Nuha Khalfay said the letter was addressed to the federal Office of Management and Budget, or OMB, to communicate the perspective of “stakeholders” affected by modifications to Title IX legislation — students. The OMB is currently responsible for drafting legislative changes to Title IX policy before it is released to the public for commentary.
“For decades now, universities have swept cases of sexual assault under the rug in order to protect their reputations while an epidemic of sexual misconduct hangs over college campuses,” the letter said. “By reducing external accountability, these proposed changes would make it easier for universities to continue in their present course to the detriment of survivors, who make up nearly a quarter of college populations.”
The EAVP’s office and several student leaders traveled to Washington, D.C. in October to speak with the Department of Education to address Betsy DeVos’ proposed changes to Title IX legislation. Such changes would bolster rights of the 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.
According to the letter, restricting the reach of Title IX to campus grounds — including campus housing — will narrow the scope of where sexual assault would be investigated, therein excluding off-campus apartments or Greek life houses. Such language ultimately lessens campus liability.
“At the federal level, our goals with regards to Title IX are to ensure that the policies are as survivor-centered and equitable as possible,” Khalfay said in an email. “The new regulations that have proposed threaten that, and as outlined in the letter are deeply confusing.”
ASUC Senator Imran Khan is one of many student representatives who signed the bill. As a senator, Khan said he has prioritized heightening accessibility and equity, particularly through the lens of the Middle Eastern/Muslim/Sikh/South Asian, or MEMSSA, community.
ASUC Senator Isabella Chow was the only senator to refrain from signing the letter. In a Nov. 1 ASUC meeting, Chow refused to support a resolution against pending Title IX changes that stood in solidarity with transgender, intersex, nonbinary and gender nonconforming students, stating it was against her Christian values.
“SVSH is present in all of our communities, so it’s important that we take an active role in combating it,” Khan said in an email. “Signing this letter is an affirmation of those goals and is a step in the right direction in ensuring that survivors are heard, protected, and given the resources they need while keeping the university accountable.”
According to Khalfay, her office will travel to Washington, D.C. in December to lobby on behalf of university students on issues concerning Title IX legislation, immigration and higher education.