SPRINGFIELD -- Michael J. Madigan, chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, released the following statement on a leaked draft of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' proposed changes to the federal policy on campus sexual misconduct.
"The new rule from Trump's Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a shocking step backward that will remove protections for victims of campus assault and harassment.
"Rather than encouraging survivors to speak up, it would weaken their voices and make it harder -- or impossible -- for them to report attacks around campus at bars or fraternities.
"There is no more appalling way to greet tens of thousands of students just now setting foot on campus for the first time than to tell them their voices don't matter.
"Under these proposed changes, the definition of sexual harassment would be severely restricted allowing damaging behavior to go unchecked. Victims could be personally cross-examined by their alleged attackers and schools would have less responsibility to keep students safe from sexual misconduct.
"Over the past year, we've seen story after story about the frequency of sexual assault. This is the time when we need to be working as leaders to stop harassment, and create pathways so people feel safe to report assault and harassment. Making it easier for institutions to narrow down the definition of sexual harassment and making it safer to commit a sexual assault is the completely wrong path for us to take.
"I strongly condemn this proposal and urge Republican Congressional leaders to demand the administration reject the change and stand in support of survivors."