Washington, DC – Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson today released the following statement regarding U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s announcement that the Department of Education will seek public comment and initiate rulemaking on Title IX and campus sexual assault.
“Presidents of public universities have no bigger priority than the safety of their students, faculty, and staff. They recognize that the success of their public university mission is inseparable from a safe campus community. This is a moral obligation. Clery Act statistics of sexual violence aren’t numbers on a page; they are people.
“Secretary DeVos noted challenges in the adjudication of campus sexual assault cases. The process must maintain fairness for both the rights of complainants and respondents. That these cases are often extremely complicated and challenging does not in any way diminish the necessity for institutions to get them right. Universities must always fairly adjudicate such cases. In no way does this take away from the need for universities to offer their full support to victims of sexual assault.
“As the Department of Education initiates public comment and rulemaking on Title IX, what cannot and will not change is the commitment of public universities to the safety of the campus community. No parent should live in fear that their child is unsafe at college and no student should ever question whether their university will support them should something terrible happen.
“While universities have made great progress to better assess campus climates and launch evidenced-based prevention strategies such as bystander intervention programs, their work is never done. Public universities will continue to build upon these efforts in order to further safe and productive learning environments.”