DeVos announces reforms of college campuses' sexual-assault policies

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced a major rewriting of the Obama administration's Title IX policies governing how college campuses handle sexual assaults.
By Vicky Webb | Sep 11, 2017
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced a major rewriting of the Obama administration's Title IX policies governing how college campuses handle sexual assaults. DeVos said that the current system, in which university administrations adjudicate cases themselves and judge and sentence the accused, does too little to protect students who might be wrongly accused. She further argued that police and courts, not university committees, should really be the ones prosecuting campus rapists.
"We shouldn't demand anyone become something they are not. Students and school administrators aren't lawyers and they aren't judges. We shouldn't force them to be so," DeVos said, speaking at George Mason University in Arlington, Va.
She gave the Obama administration credit for helping to "elevate" the issue of sexual assaults and said that its policies on campus sexual-assault prevention had good intentions. But she said that good intentions are not enough.
DeVos noted that legal representation is typically not available to either the students who say they were raped or those are accused of rape. And the accused are barred from questioning their accusers, seeing the evidence, or even knowing specifics about the allegations being levied against them.
The system fails both the accused and their victims, she concluded. She added that the Office of Civil Rights has received hundreds of complaints from students who reported sexual misconduct but feel their schools failed them, while courts have simultaneously received dozens of lawsuits filed by students who allege that they were falsely accused and wrongly punished for rapes they never committed.
Many progressive organizations bristled at DeVos' announcement, however. Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement that Title IX is working and that DeVos is encouraging schools to "return to the days when survivors were shamed, blamed, ignored, and abandoned."

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