IRS 501 C (3) Non Profit Organization
AG Doug Chin calls on Secretary Devos to maintain protections for survivors of campus sexual assault
JOSH SHAPIRO ATTORNEY GENERAL
The Honorable Elisabeth DeVos Secretary
United States Department of Education 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20202
Dear Secretary DeVos:
July 19, 2017
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL
We are writing to express our serious concern over reports that your office is preparing to roll back important protections for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses.
As Attorneys General, we see the impact campus sexual assault has on survivors, educational institutions, and our communities. Incidents of sexual assault on colleges and universities are widespread: the American Association of Universities (AAU) has found that 23 percent of female undergraduates were the victims of sexual assault or sexual misconduct due to physical force, threats of force, or incapacitation.1 The federal government’s own studies have reached similar conclusions: the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that, on average, 20.5% of college women had experienced sexual assault since entering college2 while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in five of women experienced sexual assault in her lifetime.3 Moreover, the vast majority of these incidents go unreported. In fact, the AAU study concluded that reporting rates for some types of assaults were as low as 5 percent, in part due to survivors’ concerns about coming forward.
Thanks to the tireless work of survivors and advocates, our nation is beginning to understand the full scope of this epidemic. The Department of Education’s current guidance reaffirms the obligation of colleges and universities to protect survivors of sexual assault.
1 AAU Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct (2015), https://www.aau.edu/key-issues/aau-climate-survey-sexual-assault-and-sexual-misconduct-2015.
2 Campus Climate Survey Validation Study, Final Technical Report, Appx. E, https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/App_E_Sex-Assault-Rape-Battery.pdf.
3 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf.
The Honorable Elisabeth DeVos July 19, 2017 Page 2 of 4
Among other provisions, the guidance reaffirms that Title IX requires institutions to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard in investigating allegations of sexual harassment or domestic violence. While we recognize that there is a great deal more that can be done to protect students and agree on the importance of ensuring that investigations are conducted fairly, a rushed, poorly-considered effort to roll back current policies sends precisely the wrong message to all students. Yet there is every indication that is exactly the approach your Department is taking.
In particular, we were deeply troubled by the comments attributed to Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson, who claimed that ninety percent of campus sexual assault allegations “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right’.” While we appreciate that Ms. Jackson has issued an apology, her comments communicate to survivors of campus sexual assault that the Department does not take their concerns seriously and that it is not committed to continuing its current efforts to combat this epidemic on our college campuses. Coming on the heels of news that she has directed the Office for Civil Rights to reduce its efforts to identify systematic problems in conducting investigations, we have serious concerns as to whether Ms. Jackson can be entrusted to oversee a fair, thorough process in evaluating the Department’s policies in this area.
Despite our concerns, we are committed to working collaboratively with your Department to address the problem of sexual assault on America’s college campuses. But any effort in this area must be deliberate and allow for meaningful input from all stakeholders, and it must focus on the ultimate goal of ensuring that all students are protected from discrimination, including sexual harassment, assault, stalking and domestic violence, under Title IX. To that end, we urge you to directly engage with a broad, representative group of stakeholders, including survivors, victims’ rights advocates, law enforcement, and a bipartisan group of Attorneys General from around the country, so we can take action together to end the scourge of sexual violence on our college and university campuses. Furthermore, we urge you to continue to implement and uphold these important civil rights protections so that all students are able to learn in a safe environment free from violence and discrimination.
We stand ready to partner with you in this effort and look forward to your Sincerely,
JOSH SHAPIRO HECTOR BALDERAS Pennsylvania Attorney General Attorney General of New Mexico
XAVIER BECERRA California Attorney General
MATTHEW DENN Delaware Attorney General
DOUGLAS S. CHIN Hawaii Attorney General
Iowa Attorney General
JANET T. MILLS Maine Attorney General
MAURA HEALEY Massachusetts Attorney General
ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN New York Attorney General
The Honorable Elisabeth DeVos July 19, 2017 Page 3 of 4
GEORGE JEPSEN Connecticut Attorney General
KARL A. RACINE Attorney General for the District of Columbia
LISA MADIGAN Illinois Attorney General
ANDY BESHEAR Kentucky Attorney General
BRIAN E. FROSH Maryland Attorney General
LORI SWANSON Minnesota Attorney General
Attorney General of North Carolina
ELLEN F. ROSENBLUM Oregon Attorney General
Vermont Attorney General
The Honorable Elisabeth DeVos July 19, 2017 Page 4 of 4
PETER F. KILMARTIN Rhode Island Attorney General
MARK R. HERRING Virginia Attorney General
U.S. Senate’s Heartless “Health” Bill is a Recipe for Public Health Disaster
Senate Republicans would leave many children, seniors and people with disabilities without medical care
Statement by Jessica Yamauchi, Executive Director, Hawai’i Public Health Institute
Honolulu, Hawai‘i – Republicans in the U.S. Senate have released their framework for repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and it is full of bad news for our state and nation. This framework bill would make even deeper cuts to Medicaid than the House Republican bill, impacting more than 74 million of our most vulnerable citizens, including 358,674* low-income adults, children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities in Hawai’i.
Ever political, Senate Republicans purposely delay many of the cuts until after the next two to three elections. This “bleeding it dry” strategy is a bet that if the American people don’t feel any immediate pain, they’ll forget by the time election season comes around.
The reality, however, is that the nation will feel immediate pain. The abolition of the Public Health and Prevention Fund will likely eliminate the Center for Disease Control’s highly impactful Tips from Former Smokers media campaign, which has thus far successfully helped more than 500,000 smokers quit and saved at least 50,000 lives. It’s no accident that smoking rates have reached historic lows, and the loss of this media campaign will remove one of the strongest responses we have to the billions that tobacco companies spend on marketing their deadly products each year.
Prevention and Public Health Fund dollars also fund programs in our state that fight obesity, increase access to preventive care services, and help our state and local government respond to public health threats and outbreaks. Loss of the Prevention Fund would completely eliminate our nation’s focus on preventing disease, further exacerbating health care costs in America.
Today’s nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projection details how very damaging this legislation would be. If passed, the Republican Senate “health” bill would lead to 22 million more Americans becoming uninsured over the next decade. A whopping 15 million will lose their insurance next year, with the remaining 7 million becoming uninsured over the following nine years as states downsize their programs due to the new Medicaid cap.
No one should be fooled. This is pure political trickery to starve the Medicaid program to death at the expense of children, seniors and people with disabilities. Adding insult to injury, the plan includes hundreds of millions in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
While the Republican plan does not allow insurers to discriminate against people with preexisting conditions, it does allow states to change or eliminate the “essential health benefits” that insurers are required to provide under Obamacare. These benefits include maternity and newborn care, prescription drug costs, habilitative care, mental health and substance use services. Clearly, the Senate Republicans are leaving the back door open for insurance companies to lobby their state legislatures to weaken or remove these essential health services to bring costs down and profits up.
We’re thrilled that Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz stand with all Senate Democrats in strongly opposing this devastating proposal, and we’re hopeful that there will be at least a few defections from Senate Republicans to end this politically motivated attack on our nation’s health.
* Hawai’i Medicaid Enrollment: http://www.med-quest.us/PDFs/queststatistics/EnrollmentReports2017.pdf