Betsy DeVos Moves to End Obama's Guidelines for Campus Sexual Assault Investigations

Student debt in the U.S. has reached more than $1.3 trillion. The Department of Education recently announced it would not work with the CFPB to hel students with complaints about their student loan servicers

Some victim advocates and legal experts say they expect colleges to stay the course even if Education Secretary Betsy DeVos loosens Obama-era rules.

"The system established by the prior administration has failed too many students", DeVos said during a speech at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia.

The guidelines set up under Democratic President Barack Obama in 2011 have come under fire from critics because of the strict rules colleges must follow when investigating sexual assault complaints or risk losing funding under Title IX, the federal law that bars sexual discrimination in education.

She said current guidelines do not do enough to address the due process rights of those accused of sexual assault and that the victims of sexual assault, the accused and colleges all lose under the current system. However, he says that colleges may be ready to revisit policies with an eye toward improving due process for the accused.

"Any school that refuses to take seriously a student who reports sexual misconduct is one that discriminates", DeVos said. While the Obama-era directives were not ideal, they helped elevate the voices of survivors that perviously went ignored, and served as an initial reform on handling sexual assault cases across the country. "With the heavy hand of Washington tipping the balance of her scale, the sad reality is that Lady Justice is not blind on campuses today".

In February, the Department of Education rolled back Obama-era guidelines that gave protections to transgender students in public schools who used and facilities that corresponded with their gender identity.

"This conversation has too often been framed as a contest between men and women, or the rights of sexual misconduct survivors and the due process rights of accused students", she said.

"For too long, rather than engage the public on controversial issues, the department's Office for Civil Rights has issued letters from the desks of unelected and unaccountable political appointees", DeVos said in her prepared remarks, referring to the Obama administration's decision to issue significant directives a few times in the form of "dear colleague" letters from the Education Department.

"Notice-and-comment" is a process of acquiring public input that typically precedes the issuance of new regulations by the Department of Education and other executive departments.

And criticisms of Cornell's disciplinary process for sexual misconduct cases have existed for years, the most notable criticism coming in a 2015 report from Amanda Minikus J.D. In July, she said too many students accused of sexual assault have been unfairly treated under the Obama directive. "That's why we must do better, because the current approach isn't working". "This attempt to weaken Title IX's protections is simply shameful".

"One assault is one too many".

To those tracking the Title IX issue, the announcement on Thursday was not surprising.

She wants to replace guidance that spells out schools' responsibility. "From DeVos's speech, I think it's clear that they will use that as an opportunity not to genuinely engage the stakeholders representing all viewpoints, but to pursue their anti-survivor agenda". "For me, the issue is implementation", she explained. That organization has participated in a lawsuit against the Department of Education over its Title IX guidance.

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