1. Official Post-White House Meeting Update!

    On February 21st, ED ACT NOW met with Senior White House officials on the President’s Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. We were pleased to have the opportunity to speak with the Executive Director of the President’s Council on Women and Girls, Tina Tchen; White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, Lynn Rosenthal; Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius; Department of Education Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights, Catherine Lhamon; and many other key policy makers. 

    ED ACT NOW presented three main policy recommendations:

    1. For the Department of Education (ED) to shift from a system focusing on Voluntary Resolution Agreements with schools to a system focused on actual compliance.
    2. For ED to release ongoing guidance to help administrations better understand and respond to issues of LGBTQ violence, racial discrimination, intimate partner violence, and immigration.
    3. For a guarantee of full transparency in Title IX investigations, for the benefit of both the public and individual complainants.

    The policymakers seemed receptive to our recommendations and expressed the most push back against our third point. ED is worried that releasing the names of schools under investigation before the conclusion of the investigation would unfairly publicly tar schools’ reputations. We of course expressed our disagreement. We hope the Task Force takes our recommendations seriously, and we look forward to continued dialogue moving forward.

    Signed,

    ED ACT NOW
    Kate, Alexandra, Dana, Jasmine, John, Suzanna, Laura, and Wagatwe

     
  2. to-the-sa-task-force:

    Know Your IX/ED ACT NOW after meeting with the Task Force.

     

  3. You’ll never find rape advertised in a glossy college brochure. Yet the past two years have brought a delugeofevidencethatsexual violence is a staple of U.S. higher education, with one in five women — and a number of men — suffering rape during their time in college.

    After 175,000 people joined our petition asking the Department of Education to enforce Title IX — the federal legislation that requires colleges to protect their students from violence — President Barack Obama created the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.

    It’s clear the president heard our plea: 4 out of the 5 goals the president directed to his task force came directly from our demands last summer.

    But while the President’s task force is a step in the right direction, it isn’t an end in itself.

    That’s why we’re calling on the task force to make Title IX enforcement meaningful by directing the Department of Education to conduct timely and transparent investigations, issue substantive sanctions against offending schools, and provide substantial resources to colleges about issues, like intimate partner violence, rape, sexual assault, harassment, stalking and abuse, that impact a diversity of students, including queer survivors, survivors of color, and undocumented survivors.

    Please stand with us and with all survivors who have been denied their civil right to justice and safety in education, by adding your signature below. Together we can show the President and his task force that we’re going to keep fighting until every single student can go to school in the United States without fear.

    After all, sexual violence is an extracurricular no student should have to endure.

    Please sign and share to show the White House that they need to listen to survivors. And survivors say one of the key ways to reduce campus sexual violence is through strengthening Title IX enforcement.

     

  4. We’re excited to share that we are officially adding the ED ACT NOW campaign to be a part of Know Your IX! Click the link to learn about the entire team,

     

  5. Official Response to Obama’s Task Force Announcement

    Dear ED ACT NOW Supporters,

    Last summer, with your support, we garnered over 175,000 signatures on our petition to the U.S. Department of Education (ED), “Hold Colleges Accountable That Break the Law by Refusing to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.” In July, we rallied outside the Department in Washington D.C. and met with senior White House, Department of Justice, and Department of Education officials, demanding safety and justice for college students across the country. And in the six months since, we’ve kept up the pressure.

    We’re very happy to announce that this week we won a huge victory. On Wednesday, the White House published a brand new report, “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action”, and President Obama created the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. And guess what? Four of the five objectives for the President’s Task Force are identical to those we demanded of the Administration last summer. This is a clear victory for survivors on campuses across the country — and we couldn’t have done it without you.

    But the fight isn’t over. Many of our original demands remain unanswered. So today, we call on the President’s task force to:

    • Take action to give Title IX enforcement teeth, without levying penalties that would hurt students. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has never once punished a university for sexual assault-related violations of Title IX in the entire history of the agency. Much like our colleges have failed to punish our perpetrators, the Department of Education has failed to punish our schools, sending a clear message that violations of fundamental anti-violence law will be tolerated.


    • Direct the Department of Education to conduct transparent, speedy investigations. Due to the length of the Department’s inquiries, which have lasted as long as seven years, and the Department’s lack of transparent updates to complainants, survivors desperately awaiting ED’s help have already graduated — or, too often, dropped out of school. The Department’s failure to act quickly and transparently has forced survivors to endure a terrifying absence of justice, support, and basic safety on their campuses — places that should have been their homes.


    • Direct the Department of Education and the Department of Justice to release joint yearly guidance to schools on the issues most impacting students’ campus experience. Actively incorporate student survivor input in selecting such topics and in developing the recommendations that will shape our lives on our campuses. We suggest the Department begin by issuing guidance on the following topics, which have most impacted our experiences: LBGTQ violence, same-sex violence, dating violence, stalking, racial discrimination, immigration status, financial aid, and protections for international students.

    Help us keep the pressure up and the victories coming. Sign up for our official ED ACT NOW action alerts here and help make sure survivors’ voices are heard in the President’s Task Force.

    Together, we can make higher education safe for students.

    In solidarity,

    Alexandra, Dana, John, Kate, Laura, Suzanna, and Wagatwe
    ED ACT NOW Organizing Team

     
  6. We made Obama’s Weekly Address!

    Weekly Address: Taking Action to End Sexual Assault

    In his weekly address, President Obama said that the Administration has taken another important step to protect women at college by establishing the White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault. An estimated 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted at college, and the President said that we will keep taking actions like strengthening the criminal justice system, reaching out to survivors, and changing social norms so that all Americans can feel safe and protected as they pursue their own piece of the American dream.

    Transcript | Download mp4 | Download mp3

     
     
  7. From the Know Your IX Facebook page:

    Just got a call from the White House thanking ED ACT NOW for pushing for better federal enforcement of Title IX, “instrumental” to the new Obama/Biden initiative against campus sexual violence! Thank you to all the survivors and allies who have joined voices to make this happen. Look what we’ve done together!

    And hey America, remember when you said student organizing was over?

    SO happy to share that ED ACT NOW’s work has been instrumental to the new initiative recently announced by the Obama/Biden administration to tackle the issue of sexual violence on our college campuses!

     

  8. As Dana Bolger and John Kelly point out at Feministing, a major problem with the Department of Education (ED)’s Title IX enforcement is the lack of transparency. Because the ED doesn’t publish a list of schools under investigation, the status of those investigations and the results of previous investigations, students are unaware of past and present complaints. “As a result, it’s difficult — if not impossible — for current students to determine consistent patterns of administrative negligence and incompetence, thereby diminishing their ability to point out systemic institutional failure,” they write. “It’s isolating, leaving victims feeling ‘crazy’ and alone, unaware that others have suffered the same institutional mistreatment, often at the hands of the very same administrators.”

     

  9. Title IX enforcement is getting better, but the Education Department needs to do more

    A post by Dana Bolger and John Kelly. Dana is a student at Amherst College and founder of Know Your IXJohn is a student at Tufts University. They are both organizers of ED ACT NOW

    Last July, dozens of survivors, activists, and allies descended upon the Department of Education(ED) in Washington, D.C. to demand that the federal government take seriously the violence that has been perpetrated against college students and better enforce Title IX compliance on our campuses. (Title IX is the landmark federal legislation that protects victims of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and violence at school.) In hand, members of ourED ACT NOW coalition carried a petition calling for speedier federal investigations, stricter Title IX enforcement, greater transparency, and justice for survivors in marginalized communities. Over 174,000 supporters have signed our letter.

    Today marks the four-month anniversary of the ED ACT NOW rally. In the last few months, we’ve taken our fight from ED to the Department of Justice to the White House, and have seen some important initial victories. In July, after powerful student protests on campus and our insistence that the Department not wait for official legal complaints to investigate unsafe colleges, ED opened a proactive compliance review at Dartmouth. The next month, the national office instructed regional investigators to speed up their work so survivors don’t have to wait years for justice. And just last week, ED officials promised us that they would post the findings of future investigations online, refer schools under Title IX investigations for Clery Act review (and so possible fines), and institute a policy to limit the amount of time schools can delay negotiations.

    But these are only small, early steps, and students deserve much more. As our campaign moves into its next phase, we’re focusing on students’ essential need for Department of Education transparency and guidance to schools on same-sex violence.

    Read More

     

  10. Letter to the Department of Education from ED Act Now, 09/04/2013

    The following letter is a response to a phone meeting with the Department and other administration members regarding the asks given during our in-person meeting following our rally on July 15, 2013.

    To the United States Department of Education: 

    We are the organizers of ED Act Now, a campaign urging the Department of Education (ED) to do more to hold schools accountable for violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. On July 15, 2013, we rallied outside the Department and presented our petition, which now has more than 170,000 signatures. Immediately following the rally, we met with representatives from your department, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the White House, and presented the need for improved Title IX enforcement, as well as a series of specific, concrete asks. Finally, in an August 2, 2013 phone conversation, you provided us your responses to these asks. We appreciate your patience as we compiled this letter containing our responses to the August 2 conversation.

    First, we would like to acknowledge some information you provided us during the phone conversation. You stated that about 4% of the approximately 8,000 annual complaints received by your office specifically involve sexual violence. These complaints may be few, but they are both urgent and increasingly frequent. We hope that the launch of Know Your IX, along with continued enforcement efforts by the Department, will ensure that more students file complaints, so that our nation may identify noncompliance and properly address campus sexual violence.

    You also reminded us that the Department is tasked with resolving many other cases, some so severe that young people are entirely denied the opportunity to attend institutions of higher education. We would like to remind you that survivors of sexual violence are often denied such opportunities when they are forced by their college administrations to take time off, or are forcibly institutionalized, suspended, or expelled. We know that this Administration has prioritized the need to increase college graduation rates, and note that young people’s likelihood of graduating on time or at all is profoundly influenced by their exposure to violence and harassment in their educational environment. 

    With that preface, we would like to address your specific responses to our demands.

    Read More