Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has announced her plan to modify the Obama administration’s university sexual assault guidelines, expressing concern for both sexual assault victims and the accused who are “victims of a lack of due process.”
Speaking at George Mason University on Sept. 7, DeVos criticized the current policies on sexual assault at college campuses as “kangaroo courts” that have “run amok,” reported National Public Radio.
Title IX is a federal policy that prevents gender discrimination among federally funded schools. In 2011, the Obama administration released a memo that outlined the responsibilities of schools to address sexual violence. The memo also called on schools to step up investigations into reported sexual assault and mandated the creation of Title IX panels to weigh evidence in the investigations reported CNN.
After the memo, which is referred to as a "Dear Colleague" letter, schools and the Office for Civil Rights intensified investigations into sexual harassment complaints, leading to some criticism from those in higher education.
Last year, a letter from 21 law professors and a report from the American Association of University Professors questioned the preservation of free speech and due process as a result of the new enforcements of Title IX.
DeVos said the Department of Education is planning to seek public input as it works to replace the current system, The Washington Post reported.
“Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously,” DeVos said. “Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined.”
She told stories of students accused of sexual assault battling with depression and suicide, and she referenced controversial cases such as the recent expulsion of a University of Southern California football player despite his girlfriend’s defense of his actions toward her.
After her speech, DeVos was met outside with protestors yelling, “Stop protecting rapists!”
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