Evers approves UW System rule change to sexual assault policies previously vetoed over concern for survivors.

The proposed changes bring the UW’s Title IX policies regarding sexual assault into compliance with new federal regulations, which critics fear disempower survivors. Photo: Jeff Miller, licensed under creative commons.

Author: Sam Buisman

Governor Tony Evers waives through a UW System rule change updating its sexual assault policies to new federal standards after previously rejecting them over concern for survivors

According to the Associated Press, Governor Evers condoned the UW System’s proposed changes to its Title IX policies on sexual assault corresponding with new Department of Education regulations after the Board of Regents resubmitted its scope statement to address the Governor’s prior concerns. Evers initially vetoed these changes in mid-June in fear that they would stymie reporting of sexual assault on UW campuses and endanger survivors. 

This back-and-forth between the Governor and the UW System was sparked by a Department of Education update to Title IX sexual assault protections back in May, spearheaded by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. While the new policy defines sexual assault and mandates that schools provide accessible channels to report it, it also guarantees those accused of sexual assault additional procedural protections and abilities to appeal their case. 

The Department of Education states that this policy “restores due process on campus,” but critics argue that it gives undue protections to assailants and will discourage survivors from coming forward. 

In their original scope statement on these changes, the UW Board of Regents did not make any subjective judgments on this policy update but stressed that its rules are legally bound to follow Department of Education regulations.