#INeedIX: Survivors of Sexual Assault on Campus Want DeVos’ Time

Last Thursday, more than 100 survivors of campus sexual assault and their supporters gathered with advocacy groups outside the Department of Education.

Survivors of campus sexual assault shared stories of institutional failures to hold perpetrators accountable outside the Department of Education last Thursday. Lauryn Gutierrez/Rewire
"If Secretary DeVos is going to refuse to engage with us, then we're going to come right up to her front door," said Mahroh Jahangiri, executive director of Know Your IX (not pictured). Lauryn Gutierrez/Rewire
Activist Sabrina Stevens speaks to the crowd during the #INeedIX rally. One out of five women are sexually assaulted on campus. Lauryn Gutierrez/Rewire
"Schools have a responsibility to their students. They have a responsibility to help protect them," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Keisling added, "Betsy DeVos, you have a responsibility to protect students." Lauryn Gutierrez/Rewire
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) speaks with survivor advocates after addressing the crowd. In her remarks, she implored DeVos to listen to sexual assault survivors. Lauryn Gutierrez/Rewire
Annalise Myre, 16 (left), Noelle Sanderson, 15, and Hallie Lancz, 15, are Georgetown Day School students who attended the rally with peers and teachers. Lauryn Gutierrez/Rewire
"Everyone needs Title IX because without it, schools will not listen to survivors." Lauryn Gutierrez/Rewire
Sexual assault survivor Sejal Singh, policy and advocacy coordinator at Know Your IX, shared her story of being raped in college, which caused her such severe emotional and physical distress that her education suffered. "My education was an opportunity, it was a right, and it was unjustly compromised due to gender-based violence and the fact that I couldn't trust my school to do anything about it," she said. Lauryn Gutierrez/Rewire
"UC Davis needs Title IX because girls continue to get sexually assaulted and nothing is done! We need peace!" Lauryn Gutierrez/Rewire
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) read a statement of a sexual assault survivor who was harassed by police officers that were supposed to be investigating her case. According to the statement, the officers told the survivor, "How can you know it wasn't consensual if you were unconscious?" Lauryn Gutierrez/Rewire
"I need Title IX because my friends, roommates, peers, and I deserve support. We deserve to be heard and believed." Lauryn Gutierrez/Rewire
"My university needs Title IX because survivors deserve support." Lauryn Gutierrez/Rewire
"#DearBetsy: Help end rape culture, don't perpetrate it." Lauryn Gutierrez/Rewire

Last Thursday, more than 100 survivors of campus sexual assault and their supporters, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), gathered with advocacy groups such as Know Your IX, End Rape on Campus, UltraViolet, and the National Women’s Law Center outside the Department of Education. Inside, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos held a meeting with a “men’s rights group” whose members claim their rights are unjustly restricted in college sexual assault investigations in favor of accusers. A group of advocates for survivors were allotted just 90 minutes of DeVos’ time, leading some to question her priorities regarding the protections of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and its enforcement.

According to activist Sabrina Stevens, officials have not taken the time to listen to sexual assault survivors “nearly enough since this administration took office.” The “Survivor Speak-Out” featured personal stories from survivors that highlighted the importance of Title IX protections in the fight against gender-based violence.

Standing before the doors of the Department of Education, Sejal Singh, policy and advocacy coordinator at Know Your IX, said, “We won’t be silent while our peers are harassed, raped, and pushed out of school.”