Biden speaks with student activists on DeVos rewrite of sexual assault guidance

On Thursday afternoon, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos added to the hotbed of nationwide unrest when she revealed in an interview with CBS that she intends to overturn the Obama administration's Title IX sexual assault guidelines.

The Obama administration introduced a series of guidelines to help campuses better handle sexual assault in a memo titled "Dear Colleague" in 2011. DeVos says she will use public input to rethink rules on everything from whether students can cross-examine their accuser and witnesses to whether more evidence should be required to prove allegations, and whether the definitions of sexual assault and sexual harassment are too broad in the first place. She even praised the Obama administration for raising the profile of campus sexual-assault survivors.

Today, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that she wants public comment on ways to revise the rules set by the Obama administration.

Title IX is a federal law that forbids discrimination in education based on sex.

Apparently it's easier to go back to the days when many college campuses responded to allegations of sexual assault by just sweeping them under the rug. But most legislators and reporters, much less average citizens, don't pay close attention to issues like the standard of proof or the role of cross-examination-as the administration understood.

"We are facing a reckless and irresponsible administration that creates chaos and confusion-which is bad-but [President Trump] does something worse-he creates fear in children, and that is unforgivable", Lily Eskelsen García said at the luncheon.

And Vanderbilt is under two federal investigations related to complaints about its handling of sexual assault cases. Indeed, as DeVos revealed yesterday, a university president recounted that one official who worked for Lhamon asked, "Why do you care about the rights of the accused?".

The secretary repeatedly emphasized how unacceptable the crime of sexual assault is.

Vanderbilt University has been at the center of conversations about Title IX and campus sexual assault since 2013, when four former Vanderbilt football players were charged with raping a female student in a dorm room.

In particular, García pointed to what she called the "cruel, senseless, unnecessary ending of DACA".

Some leaders of historically black colleges and universities later expressed dismay when Trump invited them to the Oval Office for a "listening session" that became an apparent photo-op for Black History Month. They may not know the statistics: that one in five women will be sexually assaulted during her college career.

DeVos has not made it clear how the education department will change the policy.

And outside of the Northern Virginia university where DeVos spoke, protesters shouted "Stop supporting rapists!" and "Shame on you!" In these cases, colleges do not have to worry about the removal of those funds if they expel an accused student, but only if they fail to do so and the federal Department of Education arbitrarily determines they were not aggressive enough in ousting an accused student. The good news is when our schools satisfy the law, they are protecting all students.

DeVos didn't lay out a specific approach, but did say she would like to see a system that's fair for all students.


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