Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Sexual assault is an issue of violence

Although Title IX only explicitly prohibits sex discrimination and does not directly concern sexual misconduct on campuses, it has been found responsible for protecting sexual assault victims.
This is because sexual misconduct was considered to be a sex and gender issue at the time this was decided in 1972; however, in 2017 I believe this is an outdated perspective to be dealing with sexual assault.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed on Sept. 6 to perpetuate the harmful gender structure that is hindering the prevention of sexual assault.
The conversation regarding sexual misconduct, assault and rape on college campuses has become overwhelmingly complicated with fear.
Sexual misconduct itself is fearful, and it has caused the conversation to be centered around the frightening details of acts of sexual aggression; consequently, exploiting the perspective of a sexual assault survivor. This leads to a real focus on those accused of sexual acts of violence rather than the survivors of it.
This is concerning to me because it has lead to a worrisome rhetoric when discussing those whom are accused of sexual assault. Too often a survivor’s testimony is dismissed once the accused is painted as a person who doesn’t deserve harsh consequences. It is as if bringing the ugly truths about sexual misconduct to the surface has forced some minds to try and excuse these gross acts of violence.
Well, too bad.
Sorry Betsy, but claiming that sexual misconduct has been swept under the carpet underneath Title IX isn’t good enough to excuse protecting the people who are hardly even tried or convicted for their crimes presently.
Not only is it a simple-minded way to deal with the ugliness of sexual assault, but it is horribly sexist in itself. I feel that it is blasphemous to look at the sexual assault issue as a gender equality issue.
Sure, I recognize that gender roles and gender structure within our society has power within our sex lives. However, violence is violence. Facts are facts. Statements from victims, bystanders, and the accused are valuable to figuring out the truth, and if the truth is that the accused is guilty of such an act then it needs to be addressed with consequences, no matter the gender situation.
If Betsy DeVos wishes to protect the judicial power in sexual assault cases then she needs to focus her energy toward detaching gender from the situation.
I want to thank President Steven Bahls for emailing Augustana students on Sept. 13 addressing the concern about the policies discussed by DeVos and reassuring the student body that Augustana will continue to uphold their current Title IX policy.
Although I still think that this issue should not be considered in a gender setting, it was appreciated that our president wanted to readdress that our campus is still “not uncertain with [their] commitment to preventing sexual assault at Augustana College,” as Bahls wrote in the email.
Continue to protect anyone from sexual assault and start to match the punishment with the crime, no matter the gender.

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Sexual assault is an issue of violence