Those Accused of Sexual Assault on College Campuses Get a Break From Betsy DeVos

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released new regulations regarding how colleges and universities should adjudicate cases of sexual assault and misconduct on campuses.

The new regulations, which have the force of law, strengthen Title IX provisions in several ways:

  • Requires schools to offer clear, accessible options for any person to report sexual harassment.
  • Empowers survivors to make decisions about how a school responds to incidents of sexual harassment
  • Requires the school to offer survivors supportive measures, such as class or dorm reassignments or no-contact orders.
  • Holds colleges responsible for off-campus sexual harassment at houses owned or under the control of school-sanctioned fraternities and sororities.

However, as expected, the new regulations also stipulate that colleges and universities “restore fairness on college and university campuses by upholding all students’ right to written notice of allegations, the right to an advisor, and the right to submit, cross-examine, and challenge evidence at a live hearing.”

Critics of this provision stipulate that this new regulation will have a chilling effect on victims reporting incidents of sexual assault and misconduct due to the likelihood that they would face a hostile cross-examination during campus conduct hearings.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee for president who is facing sexual assault allegations by a former staff member, said that if elected he would immediately rescind the new rule offering greater protections for students who are accused of sexual assault. “As president,” Biden said, “I’ll be right where I always have been throughout my career — on the side of survivors, who deserve to have their voices heard, their claims taken seriously and investigated, and their rights upheld.”

The full 2,033-page document detailing the new regulations, “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance,” may be found here.


Filed Under: Sexual Assault/Harassment

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