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More Criticism of Top Ed Civil Rights Official

July 21, 2017

More than 50 civil rights and women's groups sent a letter Thursday to Candice Jackson, the acting assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, demanding that she reject false rape myths and agree to meet with survivors of sexual assault across the country.

Jackson stirred intense controversy last week ahead of a department summit on Title IX when she suggested in an interview with The New York Times that 90 percent of campus rape allegations involved both parties being intoxicated or regret over sex. She quickly apologized for the comments, but Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat and ranking member on the Senate education committee, along with several other Democratic colleagues, has called for Jackson to resign. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has defended Jackson and rejected calls for her removal.

In the letter to Jackson, the advocacy groups -- including the American Association of University Women, Know Your IX and the Human Rights Campaign -- said survivors' stories confirm that sexual violence is a widespread and real problem on college campuses and that false reports are rare.

"To fully understand the range of victim experiences, needs and concerns, we urge you and Secretary DeVos to speak with survivors across the country, not just the handful of young people with whom you spoke for 90 minutes last week in Washington," the groups wrote. "We hope and expect that these conversations, and not only those with accused students, will inform your policies."

After a Title IX summit last week in which DeVos met with survivors of assault, college students falsely accused of assault and university representatives in three separate sessions, advocacy groups have requested that both DeVos and Jackson continue meeting with their organizations and with individual survivors.

"While we understand that you have met with a few survivors already, we believe that a single 90-minute session is not sufficient to understand the full scope and impact of gender violence in schools; far more engagement is necessary to write thoughtful, evidence-based policy on this issue," wrote Know Your IX project manager Mahroh Jahangiri in a separate letter to DeVos and Jackson this week.

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