DeVos revokes Obama-era campus sex assault policies

22 September, 2017, 22:05 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Obama-era guidance on investigating campus sexual assault rescinded

"This unconscionable decision - coupled with the decision to rescind guidance aimed at protecting transgender students - sadly indicates that the Department of Education is no longer in the business of protecting students from harm".

Mrs DeVos said campuses would continue to confront such "horrific crimes".

The new interim instructions will allow universities to decide the standard of evidence to be used when handling complaints. That means that under the Obama administration, schools were expected to discipline an accused student if more than 50 percent of the evidence pointed to the likelihood that they had committed an assault.

The 2011 and 2014 guidance documents may have been well-intentioned, but those documents have led to the deprivation of rights for many students-both accused students denied fair process and victims denied an adequate resolution of their complaints.

"This interim guidance will help schools as they work to combat sexual misconduct and will treat all students fairly", DeVos said in a statement on Friday. It also established what has become a polarizing standard of evidence used to judge cases.

The 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter from the Department of Education explicitly stated that Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, also covers sexual violence - effectively making colleges responsible for ending sexual assault on their campuses and changing the standards for how these cases are enacted.

Schools that violate the rules could have lost federal funding entirely, although that penalty has never been dealt.

"One rape is one too many, one assault is one too many, one aggressive act of harassment is one too many, one person denied due process is one too many", DeVos said speaking at George Mason University's Arlington, Virginia, campus.

DeVos is ignoring the "terrifying reality" that 1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted while on campus, according to Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of the national women's advocacy group UltraViolet.

"I really fear that DeVos will take us back to the days when schools routinely violated survivors' rights and pushed sexual assault under the rug", said Sejal Singh, a policy coordinator for the group.

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