TRENTON – Senate Higher Education Committee Chair Sandra Bolden Cunningham issued the following statement in response to federal Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ announcement that the U.S. Department of Education will review Obama-era guidance on campus sexual assault.
“It is appalling that the United States Education Secretary wants to roll back important protections for victims of sexual assault. One in five women experience sexual violence on campuses across our country and a majority of sexual assaults still go unreported. This is a statistic that demonstrates the seriousness of this issue.
“Secretary DeVos should be working to strengthen Title IX policies and to create more protections on college campuses for students, not less.
“So far, we know the department plans to rescind the Dear Colleague Letter which set guidelines for universities and Title IX administrators to follow under the law, which could have sweeping consequences including eliminating funding for many of the services that universities are providing. That is unacceptable and frankly will put students at risk.
“To add insult to injury, Secretary DeVos is focused on the current policy and its impact on those accused. Our focus needs to be preserving the health and well-being of the victims.
“I am committed to making sure colleges and universities in New Jersey are doing all they can to protect students. Two years ago I sponsored legislation to create the New Jersey Task Force on Sexual Assault. We are now working on recommendations of the task force and I am sponsoring legislation to make this panel permanent. We will also continue to look at other legislative action we can take to ensure that young women and men on our college campuses get the resources and protections they deserve.”