Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal statute meant to protect people from sex discrimination in education programs or other activities that receive federal financial assistance.
The crucial backstory to understanding DeVos's speech is something that happened in 2011.
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday called for an overhaul of how colleges investigate sexual assault, saying Obama-era guidelines are not working and the rights of the accused are being violated.
"The era of "rule by letter" is over".
In July, DeVos held a series of meetings to discuss Title IX.
She said current guidelines do not do enough to address the due process rights of those accused of sexual assault and that the victims of sexual assault, the accused and colleges all lose under the current system.
Men's rights groups have long raised tried to paint sexual assault and domestic violence victims as the true perpetrators. "These are non-negotiable principles".
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., second from right, joins survivors of sexual assault Faith Ferber, third from right and Sage Carson, right, at a rally outside the Department of Education after handing signed petitions to the Department of Education that support the Dear Colleague Letter in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. "She really does not understand the survivor's experience, the neurobiology of trauma, and it's lasting impact on students, and that's a problem because students that are experiencing that lifelong impact of trauma and are trying to have equal access to their education afterward, they really need government officials who understand the impact in order to help them get the accommodations that give them equal access to education".
Given DeVos's history, today's speech wasn't much of a surprise. "Six and a half years of this failed policy have left us with a system that victims still don't trust and that the accused have every reason to believe is stacked against them", Robert Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said in a statement.
Advocates agree that many schools are not living up to their responsibilities when it comes to sexual assault. "Examples abound of complaints that schools failed to properly respond to reports of sexual violence".
In 2011, the Obama administration told colleges and universities that they have an obligation under Title IX to combat sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus. "Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously".
"For too long, rather than engage the public on controversial issues, the department's Office for Civil Rights has issued letters from the desks of unelected and unaccountable political appointees", DeVos said in her prepared remarks, referring to the Obama administration's decision to issue significant directives a couple of times in the form of "dear colleague" letters from the Education Department.
"Also, the department is right now in the middle of notice and comment on its regulation, and the vast majority of comments that it's received address Title IX sexual assault guidance", she explained. But with the election of Donald Trump, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women, and the appointment of DeVos, who will not protect students from discrimination, advocates of survivors have feared that the Trump administration would curb rights of sexual assault survivors.