Fighting for Women's Equality

No Matter the Dear Colleague Letter Revision, We Are Here to Enforce Title IX

September 7, 2017 | by

For Immediate Release: Thursday, September 7, 2017
Contact: Sarah Christiano,, 415-575-2380

No Matter the Dear Colleague Letter Revision, We Are Here to Enforce Title IX, Says Noreen Farrell, Women’s Civil Rights Leader, 
Equal Rights Advocates Vows to Keep DOE’s and Universities’ Feet to the Fire

San Francisco, CA – Earlier today, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced her decision to rewrite the Department’s 2011 Dear Colleague Letter. The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) April 4, 2011 Dear Colleague Letter addresses colleges’ responsibility to address and remedy campus sexual assault and sexual harassment under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law that requires all students have equal access to educational opportunities.

ERA Executive Director Noreen Farrell denounced the move, saying:

“The Secretary of Education’s announcement today is an affront to campus sexual assault victims, who have benefited tremendously from the clarity provided by the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter. The cost of an education must not be sexual violence or harassment. Campus sexual assault is a national epidemic, disrupting the education of one in four young women during her college years. Its harm is often compounded by racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. And yet, Secretary DeVos is threatening recent progress made to hold institutions accountable. She has made it clear that supporting students is not her priority.

“But make no mistake: Title IX is still the law of the land. Colleges are still legally required to ensure that sexual violence does not interfere with equal educational opportunities. Secretary DeVos cannot change that obligation.

“We urge the Department of Education to believe survivors and to take its responsibility to students seriously. It is imperative that the Office for Civil Rights live up to its name. Sexual harassment and violence is a civil rights violation and should be treated as such.

“Let us be clear: Equal Rights Advocates will fight alongside sister organizations, parents, survivors, and concerned community members over the coming weeks and months. We will ensure that Secretary DeVos and her staff understand our unwavering commitment to university processes that guarantee fair, equitable, and appropriate civil rights remedies. We stand ready to enforce Title IX, even if the Office for Civil Rights will not.”

Learn more about Title IX and students’ rights on campus here.


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