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On Nov. 29, 2018, the Department of Education released proposed regulations that would replace Obama-era guidelines on the enforcement of Title IX and reshape how schools handle cases of sexual misconduct. As mandated by law, the proposed regulations will not take effect until the public has had 60 days to comment. This comment period will end Jan. 28. As Rice students and community members with a longstanding commitment to preventing sexual misconduct, we have a responsibility to provide our individual comments in the Federal Register regarding these proposed Title IX changes.
This May, 62 percent of ExxonMobil shareholders voted in favor of the company reporting the impacts of climate change on its business. In 2016, shareholders of Fluor, a major global engineering firm with over $19 billion in annual revenue, voted to require the company to formally report all of its political contributions. Yet, due to the $5 billion Rice University endowment’s sole focus on investment-picking, had it been an investor in either of these companies, it would have abstained from these votes, a de facto vote against these proxy resolutions for positive social change.
One of the core planks of Jake Nyquist’s Student Association presidential campaign has been his promise of reforms to Student Judicial Programs. Politically, it is understandable why Jake would want to focus on this issue as it builds on preconceived negative notions of SJP widespread across campus. Yet in practice, some of Jake’s proposals could cause negative outcomes, particularly for those reporting sexual assault cases to SJP. Jake’s rhetoric regarding SJP further delegitimizes an office serving a crucial role as an option for those who have been sexually assaulted. This delegitimization creates a strong chilling effect where those who might normally bring a Title IX case to SJP do not because of the perception of SJP on campus. These concerns are not abstract — a student who recently brought a Title IX case to SJP relayed their concerns about Jake’s campaign to me. Those concerns are the basis of this op-ed.