News release from Democratic nominee for governor Ned Lamont:
Following reports that U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is proposing to roll back President Obama’s protections against sexual violence and misconduct at schools, Ned Lamont, Democratic nominee for governor, said if elected he would sign an executive order and introduce legislation that maintains and expands protections against campus sexual violence and misconduct for Connecticut students.
DeVos’ new rules would change how sexual harassment and violence is defined at colleges and universities and make it harder for survivors to obtain meaningful remedies and protections against abuse. The proposal rolls back protections announced by the Obama Administration in 2011.
“Over the past year, the world has been shocked by horrific stories, some decades-old, told by brave survivors. In our state, we believe them. In Connecticut, we stand up for them. We have a basic, moral obligation to do everything possible to make it easier for survivors to come forward,” Lamont said. “The Trump Administration’s proposed rules would roll back years of progress. Betsy DeVos’ plan would shred critical protections at the federal level. Every voter must know that our state must and will fight back–together. If elected, I would issue an executive order and introduce legislation that would further protect students and keep the previous strong protections intact here at home.”
While Connecticut codified the preponderance of the evidence and affirmative consent standards for determining responsibility in campus sexual misconduct hearings in 2014, Lamont said more can be done to guarantee all Connecticut students safe and equal access to educational opportunities regardless of their sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation.
“As governor, I would not let Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos tear up these critical protections. Instead, I would use every tool at my disposal to ensure every Connecticut student has truly equal access to education free from sexual violence and misconduct,” Lamont said. “We must stand up and fight back against these backwards regulations and maintain the Obama-era regulations and definitions in our state.”
Susan Bysiewicz, Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, said it is crucial to elect leaders who will stand up for Connecticut values and women’s rights, and who will fight to protect the students and survivors of sexual assault
“We need leaders who will stand up for Connecticut values and women’s rights, and who will fight to protect the students and survivors of sexual assault. It is outrageous that the Trump Administration is putting in place policies which will strengthen protections for those accused of sexual misconduct,” Bysiewicz said. “Now more than ever, as the Trump Administration wages war on women’s health–aiming at everything from birth control access to health care affordability to the right to choose–we need strong leadership in our next governor and lieutenant governor, and we would deliver just that.”
If elected, Lamont’s executive order and legislation would:
Codify in Connecticut law the Obama Administration’s guidance clarifying that laws prohibiting sex discrimination in education prohibit sexual harassment and violence and continue to require educational institutions to affirmatively prevent and remedy sexual harassment and violence on- and off-campus, and mandate disciplinary proceedings that protect due process by providing complainants as well as respondents the right to an appeal.
Encourage robust enforcement of Connecticut’s protections by working with the Attorney General to audit compliance with the law and investigate reported violations, and by reforming Connecticut law to permit individuals to sue to vindicate their right to access educational opportunities in Connecticut free from sex-based or gender discrimination.
Review training practices and prevention/awareness education at schools, colleges, and universities to ensure that they measure up to the high standards set forth in the Obama Administration’s guidance and rolled back by the Trump/DeVos proposed rules.
Ensure that schools, colleges and universities provide complainants with meaningful access to resources and accommodations (e.g., counselors, medical professionals, tutoring, disability services and no-contact orders).
Require colleges and universities to conduct climate surveys and to report disciplinary data disaggregated by race and other socioeconomically relevant characteristics to ensure equal protection of the law in the campus disciplinary process.