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College Students Finally Received Some Due Process Protections, But The Biden Administration Wants To Remove Them: Report
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The Trump administration’s Title IX regulations, which were formally adopted last year, improved due process protections for students accused of sexual misconduct.

A new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) found that the presumption of innocence “is guaranteed at 90% of top universities in Title IX misconduct proceedings, but only at 62% of institutions for proceedings not governed by the regulations.”

Other due process protections are threatened by President Joe Biden’s nomination of Catherine Lhamon to return to her Obama-era position in the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, which, during President Barack Obama’s tenure, actively worked to eviscerate the civil rights of accused college students.

“We were finally seeing student rights moving in the right direction, but Catherine Lhamon’s nomination just shows how threatened the progress we’ve made is,” said FIRE Executive Director Robert Shibley in a statement. “If confirmed, Lhamon’s history and rhetoric indicate that she will put her thumb on the scale of justice — ripping away fundamental rights and encouraging a patently unfair shadow justice system that deprives students of their right to due process.”

FIRE examined the policies at 53 of the nation’s top colleges to see how many of 10 “fundamental procedural safeguards those institutions guarantee to students accused of violating college policy.”

Thirty-three of the 53 universities examined “do not explicitly guarantee that students will be presumed innocent until proven guilty,” FIRE found. This was despite improvements made during the Trump administration.

“Despite improvements, 44 of the 53 universities studied received a D or F grade for maintaining at least one system of policies that guaranteed no more than 4 of those 10 safeguards. This is a slight decrease from 49 institutions in FIRE’s previous report,” the organization noted.

In addition, FIRE’s report found:

  • Nearly two-thirds (62.2%) of America’s top 53 universities do not explicitly guarantee students that they will be presumed innocent until proven guilty. By contrast, more than 90% of rated universities’ Title IX policies include a presumption of innocence, which, contrary to Lhamon’s assertion during her recent Senate confirmation hearing, is explicitly required under the new regulations.
  • Three out of every four schools (75.4%) do not provide timely and adequate notice of the allegations to students accused of wrongdoing before expecting them to answer questions about the allegations. By contrast, less than one-fifth of schools (18.9%) have a Title IX policy that fails to provide such notice. 
  • Fewer than one out of every six schools (15%) guarantee a meaningful hearing, where each party may see and hear the evidence being presented to fact-finders by the opposing party, before a finding of responsibility. On the other hand, almost two-thirds of schools (64%) have a Title IX policy that guarantees a meaningful hearing. 

The lead author of the report, FIRE program officer Ryan Ansloan, said the report was “proof that institutions will go to absurd lengths to abridge their students’ rights.”

“These ratings represent the fates of real students who face suspension or expulsion without a fair process. No student should have to face a confusing, unwieldy campus judicial system with the deck already stacked against a fair process,” Ansloan added.

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