The Department of Education will change its approach to campus sexual misconduct and begin a public notice and comment process to issue new regulations, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced today. DeVos has not yet unveiled any specific plans but has stated that the current system "is not working right and well for anyone". Outside, protesters yelled, "Stop protecting rapists!"
The Obama-era guidance pushed for schools to combat sexual assault on their campuses under the laws of Title IX. It has been best known for driving the expansion of girls' and women's sports.
DeVos also met with survivors of sexual assault, higher education officials, and their legal teams, but the fact that she's giving men's rights groups and those accused of sexual assault a seat at the table has stoked outrage among women's advocates. "The DCL doesn't mention that, so she seems to be attributing places where schools are breaking the law to the law-even though the obvious answer is to enforce the law". "For too long, rather than engage the public on controversial issues, the [Education] Department's Office for Civil Rights has issued letters from the desks of unelected and unaccountable political appointees". Unlike in criminal cases, where guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, universities judge students based on a preponderance of evidence.
Last March, a Title IX investigator who was investigated and cleared of anti-male bias resigned, saying she felt harassed by an accused student and his lawyer, according to a court filing. And if schools didn't comply, they faced scrutiny and the threat of withheld funding.
Colleges hired Title IX compliance officers - dozens at schools like Yale and Harvard.
Cornell changed its sexual misconduct policies in 2016, and these revised procedures recently won top marks for fairness.
Worse still, in most of these cases where law enforcement is brought in, no charges are filed, but the accused is later punished by campus authorities. DeVos's family foundation has given at least $25,000 to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, an organization that has supported accused students and participated in the lawsuit against the department. "These are non-negotiable principles", she said.
What began as a means to protect campus goers from sexual assault has deteriorated into a complete misunderstanding of the term.
Not too much, argues Scott Schneider.
While Trump administration is skeptical about rape allegations, the facts show it is a seriouis and widespread problem. The staffing-up and intensified investigations that happened the past several years are supported by advocates and prospective students, he says. "When they're asking for fairness, they're asking for special rights", said Annie Clark, 28, of Raleigh, North Carolina, the executive director of End Rape on Campus and an organizer of the protest.
DeVos' speech came nearly two months after she met with various advocate groups to discuss how sexual assault investigations are handled on college campuses, listening to victims of sexual assault as well as to men who say they have been falsely accused.
"That kid gets suspended, expelled, humiliated, his parents are totally ostracized".
But she also said those that use "a system biased toward finding a student responsible for sexual misconduct" are committing discrimination as well.