News and Commentary

Campus Sexual Assault Sexual Harassment Title IX

115 Lawmakers Call for Return to Failed Campus Policy

Sharing is caring!


Contact: Rebecca Stewart

Telephone: 513-479-3335


115 Lawmakers Call for Return to Failed Campus Policy

WASHINGTON / March 8, 2021 – SAVE is challenging a Congressional letter that calls on the Department of Education to replace the current Title IX regulation, which took effect last year, with “key portions” of its 2011 campus sexual assault directive. Organized by Rep. Jackie Speier of California, the March 2 letter is signed by 115 Democratic members of the House of Representatives (1).

Unfortunately, the 2011 directive, also known as the “Dear Colleague Letter,” failed to achieve its primary goal of reducing campus sexual assaults. The American Association of Universities reported increases among undergraduate students in the rate of nonconsensual sexual victimization from 2015 to 2019 (Men: 1.4% increase; Women: 3.0% increase). (2)

The Obama-era policy also failed to improve the reporting of sexual misconduct:

  1. Eight years after the policy took effect, only 11% of sexual assaults were reported to campus police. In addition, only 45% of victims reported that school officials were “very likely” or “extremely likely” to take their report seriously (3).
  2. The American Association of University Women reported that 89% of American colleges received zero reports of rape incidents in 2016 (4).

SAVE has documented numerous cases in which complainants were mistreated by campus officials (5). As a result, the number of Title IX complaints to the Department of Education increased more than five-fold following issuance of the 2011 directive (6).

The 2011 policy also gave rise to a spate of false allegations. According to Brett Sokolow, president of the Association of Title IX Administrators, “Probably 40 or 50% of allegations of sexual assault are baseless.” (7) To date, over 680 lawsuits have been filed by accused students against their universities (8).

The  directive was criticized by law professors from Harvard University (9), Penn Law (10), Cornell University (11), and from numerous other schools (12). Former Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also criticized campus procedures, commenting, “There’s been criticism of some college codes of conduct for not giving the accused person a fair opportunity to be heard, and that’s one of the basic tenets of our system, as you know, everyone deserves a fair hearing.” (13)

A number of organizations issued reports sharply critical of the Department of Education statement:

  • American College of Trial Lawyers (14)
  • American Association of University Professors (15)
  • National Association of Scholars (16)
  • American Bar Association Task Force (17)

These findings reveal the 2011 directive, which cost colleges many millions of dollars to implement (18), was both ineffective in curbing campus assaults, and harmful in curtailing accused students’ due process rights.

In light of these facts, SAVE urges lawmakers to speak out in support of policies that are consistent with constitutional due process guarantees, and are likely to succeed in reducing campus sexual assaults.