Evers vetos UW rule change to sexual assault policies over concern for survivors.

The proposed rule change would have updated the UW System’s policies to match federal changes to Title IX. Photo: Richard Hurd, licensed under creative commons. Graphic: Sam Buisman

Author: Sam Buisman

Governor Tony Evers vetoed a University of Wisconsin System rule change that would align its sexual misconduct policy with new federal standards over concerns it would disempower survivors.

The Governor sent UW System President Ray Cross a letter on Monday announcing that he is rejecting a rule change proposed by the UW Board of Regents that would update the UW’s bylaws to adopt the Department of Educations’s recent changes to Title IX regarding sexual assault. Evers expressed concern that these new Title IX regulations will endanger assault survivors and chill reporting and said that the Board of Regents did not thoroughly consider these possibilities in their proposal.

In the letter, Evers hammered the importance of the current Title IX protections.

“Title IX has helped generations of students address systemic sex-based discrimination in our education system,” wrote Evers. “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.”

The Department of Education’s changes to Title IX this past May drew criticism for raising the burden of proof for accusers and increasing protections for those accused of sexual assault. However, the department holds that these provisions will deliver justice for victims while affording due process to the accused.

In the Board of Regent’s scope statement for adopting these Title IX regulations, the Board does not comment on their merits but holds that its rules are subsidiary to federal law and need to follow it.