MADISON, Wis. — Once again a group of Attorneys General from across the country are speaking out against actions of the Trump administration that put the best interests of their states citizens at risk. And once again, Brad Schimel is not. At issue this time are the comments of Trump’s Education Secretary suggesting they are preparing to roll back requirements on university responses to sexual assaults on campuses. Schimel has also recently been absent from efforts to stop Trump from weakening protections for student loan borrowers and victims of predatory practices by for profit colleges.
“Once again, Brad Schimel is conspicuous by his absence,” commented One Wisconsin Now Program Director Analiese Eicher. “We should be able to expect our top cop will be there when it comes to protecting women from sexual violence and ensuring perpetrators are held accountable. But ours is not.”
According to the letter from the coalition of Attorneys General, including neighboring states Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota, they were contacting Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to:
… express our serious concern over reports that your office is preparing to roll back important protections for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses.
The correspondence continues:
… a rushed, poorly-considered effort to roll back current policies sends precisely the wrong message to all students. Yet there is every indication that is exactly the approach your Department is taking.
In particular, we were deeply troubled by the comments attributed to Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson, who claimed that ninety percent of campus sexual assault allegations “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’.”
The national and state statistics on sexual violence on college campuses are deeply concerning. Research has found over 20 percent of female undergraduate students have been the victims of assault or misconduct. The Wisconsin numbers are even worse, in a recent survey nearly 28 percent of females at the University of Wisconsin Madison reported being the victims of nonconsensual sexual contact.
Eicher noted that Schimel has also been rightly criticized for a massive backlog of untested rape kits in Wisconsin and for an apparent lack of understanding on his part of the scope of the situation.
She concluded “There is a crisis of sexual violence against women on college campuses. And the fact that Brad Schimel won’t join the effort to stand up to the Trump administration and their weakening requirements for investigating campus assaults is appalling.”
One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.