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Betsy DeVos Signals Rollback Of Obama Policies On Campus Sexual Assault

Betsy DeVos Signals Rollback Of Obama Policies On Campus Sexual Assault

Unusual - we could have sworn we heard Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos commit Thursday to do right by victims of rape and other sexual violations on college campuses, and map a road out of the hellscape made by Obama-era guidelines that deputize educators to serve as investigators, judge and jury on what amount to crime reports, leaving victims and accused alike at sea. The department's guidance said colleges and universities were obligated to respond to reports of sexual assault under Title IX, and it specified how schools should handle reports.

She also said DeVos has not gained much ground on her efforts to expand voucher programs and privately managed charter schools.

But that frame, which Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made the official position of the Trump administration this week, reflects a complete misreading of both the situation on campus and of current protections.

DeVos on Thursday announced that she would seek feedback from the public and universities to develop new rules for the way colleges enforce the federal law.

Colleges nationwide had to dramatically revamp their approach to Title IX after former President Barack Obama's education department released a "Dear Colleague" letter in 2011.

The idea that American universities have "gone too far to the other extreme" in policing sexual assault on campus has quickly become conventional wisdom.

Significantly, the guidelines set by the Obama administration called for schools to use a "more likely than not" standard of proof in assessing guilt, rather the more stringent "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard used by the courts in criminal cases.

"We need to stay the course and show our commitment to the issue at the same time", Butler said.

San Diego State spokeswoman Katie White said the campus has implemented several changes, including creating a comprehensive sexual violence campaign, requiring training for all freshmen and staff, and hosting an annual "Take Back the Week" event series.

"As someone who spent half a century in higher education and as a retired university president and former dean, I understand first hand the very real issue of sexual violence on campuses".

DeVos is not revealing specifics about how she plans to approach Title IX.

According to the latest statistics available from the SIU Department of Public Safety, 12 rapes occurred on the Carbondale campus in 2015, along with one case of forcible fondling.

In her emphasis on the accused, she suggests that there's parity between the relative handful of accused men who are ever disciplined at all and the many horror stories reported by the one in four women who say they were sexually assaulted during college.

JOSEPH ROBERTS: It - you know, it feels good now to have someone in Washington that cares about preserving due process rights for students.

DeVos's George Mason speech represented a major shift; she mentioned the importance of "due process" ten times.

"Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously", DeVos said.

St. Peter worries the Trump administration's re-write of the rules will leave sexual assault survivors even more afraid. Though they can hardly be left out of decisions about who stays on campus and who goes, that would be even better.



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