Join End Rape on Campus and Know Your IX to #ReclaimRedZones and fight campus sexual assault
The first day of school marks the start of what’s commonly referred to as The Red Zone, the first few weeks of college when undergraduate students are most likely to be sexually assaulted. We know that The Red Zone is an important time of the school year to talk about sexual violence prevention, as some studies show that as many as up to 50% of sexual assaults take place during this period. But instead of focusing on what students can do to end The Red Zone, many campuses and media focus on how dangerous this period is, or how to curb drinking. The way people talk about The Red Zone additionally only focuses on how at-risk students are, and has a narrative that centers young, straight women instead of all folks, especially the students of color and LGBTQ folks who are disproportionately impacted by sexual violence. We can’t forget that The Red Zone is also one of the most critical times for sexual violence prevention, awareness, and activism.
We know that the most powerful changes in campus sexual violence are driven by those most impacted by it: current and former students.
Students at the University of New Mexico initially began their #ReclaimTheRed campaign to turn this period of concern into one of of action and awareness. End Rape on Campus and Know Your IX are proud to join these efforts, and ask you to #ReclaimRedZones with us.
#ReclaimRedZones is a seven-week action campaign designed for activists like yourself to combat the epidemic of sexual assault both on your campus and nationally during this crucial time period. For the next seven weeks, EROC and Know Your IX will release a weekly action that you can take to increase sexual violence prevention and survivor support on an institutional level. Through these actions, together we can work to end The Red Zone and make college campuses safer for all students.
CALLS TO ACTION
Week 3 Action: Open Letters to Your University President & Op-Eds
Under Title IX, all students have the right to go to schools that are free from sexual violence and harassment. But last week, Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that she will rescind crucial guidance that the Education Department gave to schools on how to protect students from these incidents.
We can’t turn back the clock on this — student safety is too important. If you agree, then make your voice heard by teaming up with your peers and writing your own open letter demanding that your university president commit to following Title IX. Because federal enforcement of Title IX and students’ civil rights is under threat, now is the time to demand that your school publicly declare that it will commit to upholding best practices established by current Title IX guidance.
Like VP Biden said, we must demand that our college presidents step up. Our voices matter — at Stanford this summer, when students wrote this powerful open letter, their president responded. And this week, Stanford University declared that it will not be “retreating, in any way, on the subjects of sexual assault and harassment. We continue our commitment to move forward.”
As evidenced by this success at Stanford, our voices are powerful, and making them heard works. Get started now using our tools below:
Step 1: Read our template letter below and this powerful open letter student government leaders at Stanford wrote to their university president this summer
Step 2: Start drafting your own open letter to your college president, building off of our template below.
AND/OR Write an Op-Ed.
Step 3: Send your open letter to your school or local paper, or reach out to Know Your IX to help place the open letter or op-ed. Share your piece on social media using the hashtags #StopBetsy and #ReclaimRedZones and tag us @endrapeoncampus @knowyourix.
Step 4: Sign-up here to join the movement.
Open Letter Template:
An Open Letter to President [NAME]:
On [X DATE: Google and use from a statement/media your president has given about how your school takes sexual violence seriously, and link to media], you stated that [SCHOOL NAME] takes allegations of sexual assault very seriously [OR EXACT QUOTE]. You have stated that as our President/Chancellor, you want to create a safe learning environment for all students. You have stated that as a community, it is our collective responsibility to work together to end sexual violence on our campus. We, the collective [# OF STUDENTS] students of [STUDENT BODY, NAME OF STUDENT GROUP, etc.] thank you for your commitment, and today, we call on you to act on it.
Betsy DeVos just announced that she’s going to rescind the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and potentially other guidance on the enforcement of Title IX. This guidance importantly clarified the obligations that universities like X univeristy have to protect and enforce the civil rights of their student body. If after notice and comment, the administration does rescind the guidance, it will result in decreased enforcement of the Title IX protections that keep our students safe, and help them access equitable process and accommodations. This is unacceptable.
Today, we call upon you and the rest of your administration to make good on your promises and commitment to take sexual violence at X university “very seriously” [OR EXACT QUOTE].
We, the undersigned students, ask that you make your voice heard to the Department of Education and Secretary DeVos by making a public statement during the notice and comment period to encourage DeVos to maintain the current policies and guidance that have been established by the past four decades of administrations on both side of the aisle, including the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter.
This is not an issue of partisanship. It is an issue of civil rights, and of student safety. It is well past time that this university and this country move forward in the fight to eradicate sexual violence from places of learning. Enough is enough. Given President Trump’s history as someone who has been accused of sexually assaulting numerous women, it is safe to say that we cannot trust the Trump Administration to have the best interests of survivors at heart. As such, it is even more critical that this [SCHOOL NAME] administration protect each and every student’s right to learn free from any kind of discrimination, especially if the government will not.
Stand up for survivors and stand with survivors. Tell survivors that you believe them and that this [university/college] will continue to support them by continuing to follow best practices and guidance previously issued by the Department of Education.
“[QUOTE FROM UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT, ex. “We take allegations of sexual assault very seriously]”. Those were your words, President/Chancellor [NAME]. It’s time to act on them. We’ll be waiting.
[NAMES OF STUDENTS]
Week 2 Action: Calling and Emailing the Department of Education and University Presidents
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is planning a major announcement about the future of Title IX tomorrow. DeVos has been hinting for weeks that she intends to rescind landmark guidance, including the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, which importantly clarified the obligations that schools have to students under Title IX. We must make our voices heard to the Department of Education about how harmful this could be.
And if Secretary DeVos will not protect the civil rights of students, universities must step up to the plate and stand up for their students. Together, we must call on universities to tell Secretary DeVos that rescinding guidance harms all students. Reach out to the highest leadership within your university to ask them to publicly commit to using best practices established by decades of administrations on both sides of the aisle, even if Secretary DeVos decides to withdraw this guidance.
Universities have a powerful opportunity to share their unique perspective on the importance of Title IX guidance. Follow these steps to contact the Department of Education then your university leadership to stress the need for support of existing Title IX guidance.
Step 1: Record video of yourself calling the Department of Education, follow our calling script below, and tweet it at us @endrapeoncampus and @knowyourIX using the hashtags #ReclaimRedZones and #StopBetsy.
Hi, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I am from [YOUR STATE].
We cannot go back to the dark ages when most perpetrators were found “not responsible” for rape, and that those who were were given a $20 fine and an essay. It is too dangerous.
Secretary DeVos: I am calling on you to do the right thing here. Survivors have fought to ensure that the next generation of students will not have to endure the same re-traumatizing, painful, and dehumanizing procedures that once were so commonplace.
Rescinding the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter will only serve to bring us back to the dark days of free passes for rape. Please keep the Department’s commitment to fairness and student safety. Thank you.
Step 2: Call your university’s president and follow our calling script.
For Current Students:
Hi, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I’m a [SCHOOL YEAR (i.e. junior)] at [SCHOOL NAME]. I would like to leave a message for [TITLE (i.e. President, Chancellor, etc.) AND NAME].
I’m concerned about the rights of student survivors on campus and would like President [NAME] to take concrete actions to protect students civil rights. I urge President [NAME] to publicly commit to upholding prior Department of Education guidance, including the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, regardless of the actions of the Trump Administration. I also ask that the President make [HIS/HER/THEIR] voice heard to the Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos, to encourage them to maintain policies and guidance that have been established by the past four decades of administrations on both side of the aisle.
Thank you for your time, and I hope to publicly hear from the President soon.
Hi, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I graduated from [SCHOOL NAME] in [GRADUATION YEAR]. I would like to leave a message for [TITLE (i.e. President, Chancellor, etc.) AND NAME].
I’m concerned about the rights of student survivors on campus and would like President [NAME] to take concrete actions to protect students civil rights. I urge President [NAME] to publicly commit to upholding prior Department of Education guidance, including the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, regardless of the actions of the Trump Administration. I also ask that the President make [HIS/HER/THEIR] voice heard to the Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos, to encourage them to maintain policies and guidance that have been established by the past four decades of administrations on both side of the aisle. Until or unless the President publicly announces these actions, I will stop donating to this university.
Thank you for your time, and I hope to publicly hear from the President soon.
Step 3: Email your university president using our template email.
Dear President [NAME],
I am writing to you today to urge you and the rest of the [SCHOOL NAME] administration to take concrete actions to protect the civil rights of survivors of sexual assault. As a [YEAR (i.e. FRESHMAN, ALUMNI, ETC.)], I am worried how the rhetoric and actions coming from the Trump Administration and the Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos will impact the ability of students at [SCHOOL NAME] to enjoy a college education free from discrimination.
[WRITE YOUR OWN PARAGRAPH HERE about why Title IX enforcement and guidance is important to you and your campus! This is a good place to include any school specific information such as campus climate statistics, campus activism, cases that have been publicly attributed to have occurred at your school, quotes from your university President, etc. Or use one of the paragraphs below!]
I urge you to publicly commit to upholding prior Department of Education guidance, including the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, regardless of the actions of the current Department of Education and White House. Furthermore, I ask that you make your voice heard to the Department of Education and Secretary DeVos, to encourage them to maintain policies and guidance that have been established by the past four decades of administrations on both sides of the aisle.
I look forward to reading your public statement soon.
Class of [GRADUATION YEAR], [MAJOR]
PICK A PARAGRAPH FROM THE SELECTION BELOW TO INCLUDE IN THE BODY OF YOUR EMAIL
- “_________[QUOTE FROM UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT (EX. “We take allegations of sexual assault very seriously”]_________. Those were your words, President [NAME]. It’s time to act on them.
- The existing guidance from the Department of Education importantly clarified the obligations that universities like [SCHOOL NAME] have to protect and enforce the civil rights of their student body. If the Trump administration does rescind the guidance, it will result in decreased enforcement of the Title IX protections that keep our students safe, and help them access equitable process and accommodations. This is unacceptable.
- [SCHOOL NAME] has the chance today to lead the country by publicly advocating for increased Title IX enforcement. Stand with survivors and show the country that this university cares about its students. Tell survivors that you believe them and that this university will continue to support them by continuing to follow best practices and guidance previously issued by the Department of Education.
- Prominent leaders across the country, from State Attorney Generals to leadership of other four-year institutions, have publicly called on Secretary DeVos to uphold Title IX guidance. I encourage you, as the President of [SCHOOL NAME], to do the same. You are in a unique position to tell Secretary DeVos that rescinding the guidance will cause confusion and inconsistency, both of which are harmful to this university and its students.
- A top official within the Department of Education was quoted saying 90 percent of sexual assault claims “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right’.” This assertion is blatantly false, and it’s important to me and the rest of the student body that you make it clear that this university believes differently.
Step 4: Let us know who you contacted! Fill out the form below so we can help you continue to advocate for change on your campus.Name *First NameLast NameEmail Address *Name of College/University *Name and Title of Administrator Contacted *How did you contact your administrator? *Phone CallSocial MediaIn-Person MeetingI am a.. *
AdministratorI am interested in future actions includingWriting an Op-EdOrganizing a RallyHosting a protestHolding a speak outStarting a petitionMeeting with my campus administration
Week 1 Action: Submit Public Comment to the Department of Education
To launch our seven weeks of actions to #ReclaimRedZones, we are asking you to take a few minutes this first week to call on the federal government to protect the right of students to enjoy an education free from discrimination. The Department of Education has extended their deadline for submitting public comment on regulations until September 20, 2017, giving us an opportunity to really stress why Title II, Title VI, and Title IX guidance such as the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter (2011 DCL) is crucial for protecting the civil rights of students.
Despite claims to the contrary, the 2011 DCL did not create new regulations but merely clarified obligations to students based on years of established court proceedings, regulations and guidance from years of previous administrations. The guidance served as a reminder to schools to continue practices such as using the preponderance of evidence standard and having a designated Title IX Coordinator. A decision by the Department of Education to rescind the 2011 DCL would cause survivors to be less aware of their rights and have less tools through which to advocate for themselves, take away support systems and resources that help survivors stay in school, hurt the ability of schools to comply with Title IX by taking eliminating best practices, and will most disproportionately affect marginalized survivors. A school in California and a school in Georgia could have two very different Title IX procedures and a survivor’s ability to get justice should not depend on their zip code.
Follow these steps in order to make your voice heard to the Department of Education and emphasize the need to protect the civil rights of students all across the country.
Step 1: Use this template as a starting point.
Dear Assistant General Counsel Hilary Malawer,
I urge the Department of Education to put students first by maintaining all guidance on Title II, Title VI, and Title IX in its current form and preserving 34 C.F.R. pts. 1 thru 1299.
[WRITE YOUR OWN PARAGRAPH using the sample comments below or write your own personalized comment about why the Department of Education should refrain from rescinding or revising any current guidance and regulations.]
Every student deserves equal protection under the law to have an education free from discrimination, whether on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, disability status, English proficiency, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Strong enforcement of Title II, VI and IX from the Department of Education is increasingly necessary. Please protect the civil rights of students by maintaining all existing guidance and regulations.
Step 2: Take your pick of any of the sample comments below to plug into the “Write Your Own Paragraph” section of our template, or write your own!
- The 2011 Dear Colleague Letter clarified the obligations that schools have to their students in ensuring an education free from gender-based discrimination. This clarification is important for schools and students alike to understand what obligations schools have, and to ensure Title IX is fairly and adequately enforced.
- We need to increase Title IX enforcement, not decrease it. It is important to hold all schools equally accountable for providing a safe environment for students.
- As a student who cares about eradicating sexual violence on my campus, I believe that guidance like the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter is critical in ensuring a fair process for all.
- As a [survivor/parent of a survivor/friend of a survivor], [I/my child/my friend] would not have been able to have equal access to education and been able to equitably pursue justice, as [my/their] civil rights under Title IX guarantee, without the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter.
- OR, powerfully share a personal story about how the Department of Education’s strong enforcement of Title IX in the past made a difference in your life, or in the life of someone you love.
Step 3: Click here to submit your comments to the Department of Education.
Step 4: Take a screenshot of your comments and tweet them to us @endrapeoncampus and @knowyourIX using the hashtags #ReclaimRedZones and #DearBetsy