In a continuation of her vocal opposition to proposed changes to Title IX rules, U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) announced Amanda Thomashow as her guest for Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.
Thomashow is a former Michigan State University student, survivor of Larry Nassar’s abuse, and a campus sexual assault coordinator. She filed the first Title IX case against Nassar in 2014. The school has since been accused by the U.S. Department of Education with violating the Clery Act in this case because officials designated as Campus Safety Authorities failed to report the crime. The school’s Title IX office cleared Nassar.
Title IX is a law that stipulates any institution receiving federal financial aid must protect students from discrimination or participation in accessing an education or related activity on the basis of sex.
Slotkin’s invitation to Thomashow comes after Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed changes to Title IX, and MSU faces continued scrutiny for the atrophied reporting processes and investigations that allowed Nassar to continue to abuse patients under the guise of medical treatment on MSU’s campus.
The proposed Title IX changes include the right of an individual accused of sexual misconduct to cross-examine their accuser, constrict the definition of sexual harassment college’s must act on, and allow college’s the option to elect to require a higher burden of proof in sexual assault cases.
Slotkin, alleged in a letter to DeVos last Friday that under the proposed changes MSU would not have been required to take action against Larry Nassar.
“I have profound concerns over how this rule would impact victims of sexual assault and harassment on college campuses. Under the proposed rule, MSU would likely not have been required to take actions to protect the survivors of the Larry Nassar scandal. This is inexcusable,” wrote Slotkin.
She continued to advocate that the proposed changes did not make opportunities to seek redress more robust, but in fact, “excuse large swaths of harassing activity from scrutiny under Title IX, creating a chilling effect on the reporting of sexual harassment and assault” making “an already arduous grievance process more difficult for victims.”
Thomashow has also publicly encouraged people to oppose the measures during the public comment period. In a statement, announcing Thomashow’s attendance, issued by Slotkin’s office Monday she said she’s proud to be attending.
“I’m proud to be joining Rep. Slotkin at the State of the Union not only to continue the conversation around institutions’ responsibility for preventing and addressing sexual assault head-on, but also to discuss how Congress can push back on attempts to roll back students’ and survivors’ rights and strengthen Title IX protections,” said Thomashow.
I am incredibly honored to attend the #SOTU address as Rep. Slotkin’s guest and look forward to the opportunity to raise further awareness around the needs of all survivors of sexual assault. Thank you @RepSlotkin for your dedication to making this world a safer place https://t.co/HQufymy13J
— Amanda Thomashow (@amandathomashow) February 5, 2019
Slotkin echoed the concerns in her letter to Secretary DeVos saying, “I find it extremely troubling that under Secretary DeVos’s proposed changes to Title IX, MSU would likely not have been required to take action to protect Amanda and other survivors of the Larry Nassar scandal.”
She added, “I’m looking forward to having her here to discuss both the ways Congress can serve as a check and balance on the Administration’s proposed Title IX roll-backs, as well as the proactive action we can take to keep students safe on campus.”
The President will address members of Congress and their guests from the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday at 9:00 p.m.
Follow Abigail Censky on Twitter: @AbigailCensky