The Department of Education officially revoked the Obama administration’s guidance on college sexual assault. Democratic Senator Patty Murray said in a statement the decision could send sexual assault survivors “back into the shadows.”
When Betsy DeVos, the bewildering choice as Trump’s Secretary of Education, gestured at these upcoming plans in a speech earlier this month, many Democrats made similar statements. All 56 Democratic members of Congress who tweeted about the speech criticized it. Democratic Senators Bob Casey and Kristen Gillibrand called DeVos’ decision “an insult to survivors of sexual assault” and “[a betrayal of] our students, plain and simple,” respectively.
Since Obama implemented these new policies, college sexual assault has become a hyper-partisan issue, with Democrats defending the rights of victims—and Republicans indiscriminately defending the rights of the accused—at times questioning the existence of the epidemic of sexual violence on college campuses.
This divide is most evident in state legislation. Red states like North Dakota and North Carolina have passed legislation to protect the rights of the accused, requiring that all students have lawyers in disciplinary hearings. The Blue states of California, Connecticut, Illinois, and New York, on the other hand, have all passed “yes means yes” legislation, which strongly favors victims’ rights. These latter laws mandate that, in order for sex to be consensual on college campuses, both parties need to explicitly provide consent.
As Obama moved to make college sexual assault one of his administration’s signature causes, Republicans began associating him with the issue.
Throughout the campaign, conservatives, particularly members of Trump’s campaign, condemned “elites” and “snowflakes” on college campuses for being too sensitive on a variety of issues – including rape.
Too sensitive on rape? Our hope is that history and the American people will remember the Trump administration and the republican party as the party that protects white supremacists, nazis, polluters, and now, rapists.