The Isla Vista Community Services District condemns the proposed changes to federal Title IX policy, according to a statement released by the board on Monday.
The amendments, proposed by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, would narrow the definition of sexual harassment as well as limit the proceedings to live hearings, among other changes.
The amendments would also allow educational institutions to dismiss cases of sexual and domestic violence that do not occur on campus premises, according to the statement issued by Isla Vista Community Services District (I.V. CSD) President Spencer Brandt.
The I.V. CSD is “greatly concerned” about this proposed change due to the large number of students that live off-campus — I.V. alone is home to approximately 14,000 UC Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College students, according to the statement.
The statement also referenced statistics from the 2017-2018 school year, which stated that 376 students approached UCSB’s Campus Advocacy Resources and Education (C.A.R.E) office to disclose that they had experienced “sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and/or had been stalked, either on or off campus, recently or in the past.”
“The new standard will leave the door open for legal challenges that could encourage higher education institutions to look the other way when sexual and interpersonal violence occurs off campus,” the letter said.
The I.V. CSD also said fear and pressure can leave many students unwilling to file a report.
“Reporting to Title IX will become much more difficult, and some cases [may] be ignored completely,” I.V. CSD Board President Spencer Brandt said in a statement to the Nexus.
With these new amendments, the I.V. CSD said it believes that even more cases could be left unreported, and students committing sexual and domestic assault could do so without facing disciplinary action from school administration.
Brandt went on to highlight the ways that support groups on campus have worked to raise awareness of the issues and challenges facing survivors of harassment and assault.
“Survivor advocacy and support groups and political organizers, such as Students Against Sexual Assault, are doing excellent work bringing the lived experiences of survivors out of the shadows and into the light. Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration should be working with groups like them to reform Title IX policies, instead of right-wing special interest groups,” Brandt said.
The University of California reflected similar sentiments regarding the proposed amendments, according to a press release sent out by Suzanne Taylor, the UC’s interim systemwide Title IX coordinator.
Taylor expressed concern that changes to Title IX would create “new and unnecessary hurdles” for survivors and hinder the university administration’s ability to properly enforce Title IX.
Title IX is a federal civil rights law enacted in 1972 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally-funded educational institutions. These regulations require administrators to take action in response to reported cases of sexual and domestic violence.
The Department of Education encourages students, educators and community members to share their responses to the proposed amendments by Jan. 28.