KC Johnson criticizes Obama-era Title IX policies

Haley Mullen, Contributing Writer

As associate professor of political science Chris Ellis introduced KC Johnson on Nov. 6 in the Elaine Langone Center, he informed the crowd that the speaker holds a perspective “which is not always uncontroversial.”

Johnson, who was hosted by the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy on and the departments of education and political science, spoke about Title IX, policies and proceedings regarding sexual assault, and due process on college campuses. A professor of American history at Brooklyn College, he is a known critic of Obama-era policies on Title IX.

During his talk, Johnson discussed his belief that under the Obama administration Title IX has been reinterpreted “as a tool to weaken procedural protections for students accused of sexual assault.” In addition, Johnson discussed the impact these new procedures have had on campuses across the country.

Title IX was implemented in 1972 with the intent to address the gender inequalities seen in collegiate athletics. However, in 2011 the Obama administration reinterpreted Title IX to produce a new series of guidelines surrounding campus policies on sexual assault. Johnson believes that under the guidelines administered by the Obama administration “college students are losing rights and being treated unfairly purely because they are college students.”

Some audience members questioned Johnson’s sources, example cases, and other details of the talk.

“I think it is more important, and should be highly valued, to increase the number of students coming forward to talk about their experiences than it is to raise a burden of proof on the grounds that getting kicked out of college is as life-altering as going to prison,” graduate student Somer Dice said.

Betsy DeVos, the current United States Secretary of Education, withdrew a majority of the Obama-era guidelines and implemented new guidelines. The new guidelines have granted universities and colleges greater autonomy in shaping disciplinary proceedings in cases regarding sexual assault.

Under the University’s policies, the new guidelines administered by DeVos have had no effect on the University’s disciplinary proceedings regarding sexual assault. As shown by the email from President Bravman on Sept. 8 and reiterated by the University’s Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator Rachel Stewart, “our policy is still compliant to this interim guidance and we have dedicated a lot of effort into the fair and proper development our policies. We are not changing anything until the government tells us that we need to.”

“I was a public defender for 16 years and Bucknell aims to ensure due process to any accused students,” University Compliance Officer & Title IX Coordinator Kathleen Grimes said during the question and answer period with Johnson.

Further information regarding the University’s Title IX policies and procedures can be found under the Title IX section of the University’s website at https://www.bucknell.edu/titleix.

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