Student senators denounce Betsy DeVos' proposed Title IX changes...without reading them

Twenty student senators at the University of New Mexico voted to pass a resolution condemning Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' proposed Title IX changes.

But a number of the student senators reportedly did not even read the 144-page document before denouncing it.

A New Mexico student government moved to unanimously denounce the Trump Administration’s proposed Title IX changes but reportedly did not even have time to go over the entire list of changes before the vote.

The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico unanimously passed Resolution 15F, which officially denounced a set of changes to Title IX proposed by Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during a Nov. 28 meeting, the Daily Lobo student newspaper reported. The Resolution, when passed, also urged UNM President Garnett Stokes to support the decision and issue a statement announcing the university’s opposition to the changes.

DeVos’ proposed changes include urging schools to adopt a “clear and convincing evidence” standard for sexual assault cases and scrapping the preponderance of evidence standard. If enacted, the new rules would also impose a stricter definition of “sexual harassment.” 

[RELATED: ACLU bashes Betsy DeVos’ Title IX proposal]

While the resolution passed, the Daily Lobo reported that most of the senators involved in the vote did not have time to read the full list of changes. Individual senators reported their familiarity with the changes using phrases ranging from “not the full thing” to “know generally.”

The Daily Lobo interviewed several of the senators who voted on the measure. Of the senators interviewed by the student publication, only one of the senators and one of the three sponsors of the resolution, Rachel Montoya, said that they had read the Title IX changes in full.

“When Senators make a decision like this, they weigh the issues in many ways, including holding meetings with students, considering pertinent information as outlined in the resolution, reading contextual information from outside sources — like news outlets and relevant commentary — and, if applicable, consulting material directly.” UNM student government spokesman Brendon Gray told Campus Reform.

Senate President Becka Myers and Vice President Emily Wilks, both of whom read the proposed changes in full, stood behind the decision of the senators.

“It’s everyone’s own prerogative to be as involved in politics as they want to be,” Wilks told the Daily Lobo. “I think they understand the connotations based on the descriptions that they were given before voting.”

Gray noted to Campus Reform that during the two-and-a-half hour meeting, senators said that they had consulted with the Title IX changes and discussed relevant parts and that senators heard extensive comment from members of the University of New Mexico’s campus who were “well versed” on the issue.

“Additionally, ASUNM plans to work with university units to continue the discussion about Title IX changes through presentations and workshops." Gray said. 

[RELATED: Title IX complaint filed against ‘hate men’ professor]

UNM has not released an official statement on its position regarding the proposed changes.

Other senators, UNM’s Office of the President, and the Board of Regents did not respond to Campus Reform inquiries in time for publication.

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