USA Today reports:
Saying the Obama administration “weaponized” the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights to work against students and schools, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Thursday said she would replace the current approach to addressing sexual misconduct on college campuses with “a workable, effective and fair system” that more explicitly takes into account the rights of the accused.
DeVos said the Trump administration would roll back Obama’s “failed” Title IX guidance on sexual assault and harassment. Educators, she said, have complained that the current system amounts in many cases to “kangaroo courts,” in which the rights of the accused are given short shrift unless they can afford to hire legal representation to pursue complaints. “No student should be forced to sue their way to due process,” she said.
The National Education Association reacts:
Educators across the nation are appalled that the Department of Education has decided to weaken protections for students who survive campus sexual assault or harassment. This decision offends our collective conscience and conflicts with the basic values of equality, safety, and respect that we teach our students every day. Title IX is essential to protect each student’s right to equal access to education and an educational experience free from violence.
The 2011 U.S. Office of Civil Rights guidance says that both the survivor and the accused have the same rights and must be treated equally during all proceedings. Today’s announcement is another example of a Trump-DeVos agenda that scorns respect for survivors, including Secretary DeVos’s own recent meeting with radical anti-woman activists and the president’s own recorded sexual assault confession during the campaign.
The Human Rights Campaign reacts:
“With today’s announcement, Betsy DeVos is insinuating that she would prefer to take America back to a time when it was more difficult for survivors of sexual assault to receive justice,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign. “For the LGBTQ community, which faces disproportionate levels of sexual assault and violence, this decision sends a strong signal that the U.S. Department of Education will not use its full power to protect them from harm. This signal is only amplified and worsened by the actions the department took earlier this year when it callously rescinded guidance aimed at protecting transgender students.”
US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand reacts:
“Secretary DeVos’s announcement today betrays our students, plain and simple. With so many sexual assaults still happening on college campuses all over the country, we should be doing everything we can to make our Title IX enforcement policies stronger – not weakening or jeopardizing them. The Department of Education has a responsibility to keep our students safe and to guarantee fairness to both sexual assault survivors and those accused of sexual assault crimes.
“I don’t want to see an innocent person punished any more than I want to see a guilty person let off the hook, but Secretary DeVos has shown that she does not take the rights of survivors seriously. I will do everything in my power as a Senator to fight to support our sexual assault survivors, and I urge everyone who cares about safety and fairness on our college campuses to raise your voices with me.”