DeVos to revise controversial campus sexual assault policy

Following a series of controversial meetings Thursday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos signaled that she plans to revise controversial Obama-era guidance on campus sexual assault, contending that “this is an issue we’re not getting right.”

According to Politico, “The far-reaching 2011 guidance told college and university officials they must combat sexual harassment, including sexual violence, under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination, and threatened a loss of federal funding to institutions that failed to do so. Among other things, the guidance pushed a lower standard of proof in campus disciplinary hearings than is used in criminal trials.”

Advocates of the 2011 guidance saw it as vital in combating what they describe as an epidemic of campus sexual violence, while critics said it compromised the rights of accused students.

On Thursday, DeVos held a series of “emotional” meetings with sexual assault survivors, students who claim they were falsely accused of sexual assault and college officials.

The meetings “made it clear to me there’s work to be done,” DeVos said. “This issue is hurting too many students. We’ll get to work to figure out the best way to solve this problem.”

Families Advocating for Campus Equality, a group whose representatives met with DeVos, said that the organization has been contacted by nearly 400 students who claim to have been falsely accused of sexual assault.

DeVos said changes to the Obama-era guidance would be made through a “process,” not an “event,” and pledged to make the process “collaborative.”

“We can’t go back to the days when allegations were swept under the rug,” DeVos said. “And I acknowledge there was a time when women were essentially dismissed. That is not acceptable. It’s clear that there are failings in this process. A system without due process protections ultimately serves no one in the end.”

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