Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on Monday rejected a scope statement from the University of Wisconsin System for Title IX changes that follow new rules from President Donald Trump’s administration, saying the changes could weaken protections against sexual harassment.
Evers, a former educator and state Superintendent of Public Instruction, said in a letter to UW System President Ray Cross he had rejected the proposed rules — which deal with student nonacademic disciplinary procedures — because “the scope statement does not indicate whether UWS will weaken or strengthen the definition of sexual harassment.”
“Education and civil rights leaders across the nation have voiced strong concerns about the new federal regulations and the chilling effect they will have on survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault,” Evers said in the letter.
Evers also said the scope statement does not address the economic impact restricting access to the Title IX complaint process will have on Wisconsin.
“Restricted access to the Title IX complaint process will inevitably result in significant costs, not only to survivors’ physical and emotional well-being, but also the resulting need for increased mental health care services,” Evers said in the letter.
Evers has requested a new scope statement to address his concerns.
Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex under federally funded programs. New regulations issued by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her department must be implemented by Aug. 14, before the fall semester begins.
DeVos in May said the new regulations strengthen protections for survivors of sexual misconduct and “restore due process in campus proceedings to ensure all students can pursue an education free from sex discrimination.” Opponents of the new rules, which allow those accused to cross-examine their accusers, say they attempt to weaken protections against sexual harassment and assault on campuses.
Earlier this month, Evers authorized Attorney General Josh Kaul to join 17 other states in a lawsuit against the Title IX changes.
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