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An Open Letter to President Geoffrey Mearns:
On September 8, 2016, you stated that you are “committed to eliminating sexual-based violence, and all violence, on our campus and in our community." Although you were speaking as the President of Northern Kentucky University at the time, I trust that is your promise and vision at Ball State University as well. You have stated that as the President, you want to create a safe learning environment for all students. You have stated that as a community, it is our collective responsibility to work together to end sexual violence on our campus. I, a graduate student in the Teachers College at Ball State, thank you for your commitment, and today, I call on you to act on it.
Betsy DeVos just announced that she’s going to rescind the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and potentially other guidance on the enforcement of Title IX. This guidance importantly clarified the obligations that universities like X university have to protect and enforce the civil rights of their student body. If after notice and comment, the administration does rescind the guidance, it will result in decreased enforcement of the Title IX protections that keep our students safe, and help them access equitable process and accommodations. This is unacceptable.
Today, I call upon you and the rest of your administration to make good on your promises and commitment to take sexual violence a university seriously.
I ask that you make your voice heard to the Department of Education and Secretary DeVos by making a public statement during the notice and comment period to encourage DeVos to maintain the current policies and guidance that have been established by the past four decades of administrations on both side of the aisle, including the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter.
This is not an issue of partisanship. It is an issue of civil rights, and of student safety. It is well past time that this university and this country move forward in the fight to eradicate sexual violence from places of learning. Enough is enough. Given President Trump’s history as someone who has been accused of sexually assaulting numerous women, it is safe to say that we cannot trust the Trump Administration to have the best interests of survivors at heart. As such, it is even more critical that this Ball State administration protect each and every student’s right to learn free from any kind of discrimination especially if the government will not.
Stand up for survivors and stand with survivors. Tell survivors that you believe them and that Ball State University will continue to support them by continuing to follow best practices and guidance previously issued by the Department of Education.
“I am committed to eliminating sexual-based violence, and all violence, on our campus and in our community”. Those were your words, President Mearns. It’s time to act on them. I’ll be waiting.