Senator Maggie Hassan and Congresswoman Annie Kuster met with representatives from colleges and universities across New Hampshire Monday for a discussion of new Title IX rules proposed last week by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The rules, now open to public comment, would reduce the liability of schools for investigating assault and harassment reports, and boost protections for the accused.
Victims’ rights advocates – including leaders of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, who hosted Monday’s discussion – say the changes will discourage survivors from reporting abuse.
“Coming forward in my experience was difficult enough,” said Harmony Reid, who survived an assault years ago while studying at Plymouth State University. The current proposal will only make that process harder, she said.
Among other changes, the rules would narrow the definition of sexual harassment and relieve administrators of their duty to investigate off-campus incidents. That effectively limits schools' ability to create a safe and respectful environment, Kuster said.
Governor Chris Sununu on Monday also issued a statement against the proposal. “We know from survivors that the fear of being blamed, and the fear of not being believed are among the top reasons why they do not come forward to report their experience,” he wrote. “These proposed regulations could potentially codify those fears, threatening the safety and integrity of students and our educational institutions.”