MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced he is rejecting a scope statement for an emergency rule submitted by the University of Wisconsin System (UWS) relating to Trump Administration Title IX changes that could weaken protections for survivors of sexual harassment and assault.

“Education and civil rights leaders across the nation have voiced strong concerns about the new federal regulations and the chilling effect they will have on survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault,” said Gov. Evers in a letter to UWS President Ray Cross.

The UWS proposed rule seeks to make changes to Chapter UWS 17, which deals with student nonacademic disciplinary procedures. The governor noted in his letter that the proposed scope statement does not adequately address which changes will be made to Chapter UWS 17, whether UWS will weaken or strengthen the definition of sexual harassment, or the potential consequences of limiting access to the Title IX complaint process for students.

Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex under federally funded programs and activities. In May as campuses across Wisconsin and the country responded to COVID-19, Secretary Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education issued final regulations to be implemented by Aug. 14, 2020 before the beginning of the fall semester. The new regulations, in part, narrow the definition of sexual harassment under Title IX and determine how campuses manage sexual harassment and assault allegations.

The governor’s announcement today comes after Gov. Evers authorized Attorney General Josh Kaul to join 17 other states and the District of Columbia in a complaint against the Trump Administration’s attempts to weaken protections against sexual harassment and assault on campuses across the country. A copy of Gov. Evers’ letter to UWS President Cross can be found here.

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