Betsy DeVos Ready to Peel Back College Sexual Assault Policy

Sexual assault on college campuses is an epidemic, yet the Trump administration is planning to rewrite the rules to ensure that those accused of sexual misconduct aren’t victimized.

In a speech delivered at George Mason University on Thursday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the policy devised by former President Barack Obama’s staff is a “failed system” in need of overhaul.

“Instead of working with schools on behalf of students, the prior administration weaponized the Office for Civil Rights to work against schools and against students,” said DeVos. She added, “Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined.”

Specifically, Obama used Title IX to require colleges to stop ignoring sexual assault allegations and more quickly respond with actual consequences for those people the schools deemed guilty. He even threatened to withhold federal money to make them adopt these new policies.

This policy has been controversial to many, including those in the Trump administration, because it forces universities to assess serious charges as if they were criminal courts. Schools could level consequences, including expulsion, on assaulters so long as the majority of evidence (not a court room’s “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard) implicated them.

You may recall that DeVos met with self-proclaimed men’s rights activists a couple of months ago to discuss this issue. These interactions may have colored the decision to deprive colleges of the power and/or obligation to address rape and sexual assault.

Although DeVos’s speech made it pretty clear where she stands on this issue, she did say that she will allow for a period of public feedback to help advise the Department of Education on how to transform policy.

DeVos has the lowest public approval rating out of any of Trump’s political appointees, so she may not be that concerned at this point with whether or not setting back sexual assault rules will be popular with Americans.

Certainly, the existing system, put into place in 2011, could use some tune-ups to be fairer for all parties. That said, sexual assault survivors and their advocates are wary that a White House led by a misogynist who bragged about groping might not actually have victims’ best interests in mind with these changes.

The good news is that even if and when Trump’s DoE loosens the rules on how to handle campus sexual assaults, most colleges probably won’t throw out the advancements they’ve made in the past six years. After speaking with university representatives, NPR expects that we’re not likely to see any serious backslide on the part of most colleges regardless of DeVos’s ultimate decision.

Take Action

Tell Betsy DeVos to continue compelling universities to provide justice to victims of sexual assault by signing the Care2 petition.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

45 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Nicole H

Of course, no one knows what she thinks to win in return of this disgusting and despicable change. Being stalked, abused or raped by a colleague student is a most delicate matter to treat, certainly for the girl. Automatically she will get 70 or 80 % of the men against her. Even part of her female students will have their doubts, for whatever stupid reason they may think. But most certainly, we will NOT return to the 20th century, when young girls (incl. students) were automatically blamed in case of any form of sexual assault. Most certainly DeVos never has encountered any sexual assaults, and never had a close girlfriend who was the victim of one. As parents, we want our daughters to be SAFE the a College or University. DeVos is a woman without a heart. No compassion ! No empathy ! A disgrace for the female species !!!! But a very good spokeswoman for TRUMP !

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Kathryn I
Kathryn I1 years ago

Petition signed! Thanks!

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ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA R1 years ago

Petition signed. ...

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Karen H
Karen H1 years ago

Another case of undoing anything and everything Obama put in place because he had the audacity to be a Black man in the White House. Betsy met with men and decided they were being accused unjustly. How many rape victims has DeVos met with? How many traumatized victims has she listened to? We have to keep fighting.

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Philippa P
Philippa Powers1 years ago

Thanks.

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Janet B
Janet B1 years ago

Thanks

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Stephanie s
Stephanie Y1 years ago

Dangerous woman. Signed. Thank you

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Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE1 years ago

Thank you

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Carl R
Carl R1 years ago

Thanks!!!!

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