The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is taking a step forward in the battle against sexual assault on college campuses by announcing it is changing the college admission process for computer science courses and certifications to make sure students are not at risk of falling into that trap.
The move follows several similar actions by the department this year, including one requiring colleges to take affirmative consent as a prerequisite for all courses.
But the move to remove certain courses from consideration comes at a time when the college admissions process is in flux, with students still adjusting to the new curriculum and working to get into elite colleges.
“The new college admissions requirements, which have been in place for over a year, are a step in the right direction, but students still have to make their own decisions and decide whether or not to take courses,” said Laura Mottram, director of the Office for the Civil Rights, in a statement.
“I encourage colleges to use the new standards to help ensure that every student, regardless of their background, will be eligible to participate fully in their college experience.”
The department says that it has no plans to remove computer science programs from the admission process in the near future.
The move comes after an internal memo from OCR director and interim president Julie Roffman said the college approval process for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects should be reconsidered after the administration reviewed the results of a study of students’ experiences with sexual assault.
In the memo, Roffmans stated that the findings of the study were inconsistent with OCR’s current understanding of the process.
The report, which was first reported by The Hill, found that a third of all college students who were sexually assaulted during their college years did not report it to the school they attended, but only one in five reported the assault to their university.
It also found that sexual assaults in colleges are more likely to happen if students do not have support from the community.
Roffman, however, has said that her office does not think colleges should be the ones deciding which STEM subjects to allow students to take, but instead colleges should provide support services and resources for those students who need it most.