The Department of Education announced Thursday that it would revisit an Obama-era campus sexual assault policy that threatened colleges and universities with revocation of Title IX funding if they were not harsher on students who became involved in sexual assault disagreements.
Feminists and other assorted leftists absolutely lost their minds on social media when Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that, pursuant to a study showing that those accused of sexual assault on college campuses were often denied even basic due process rights, that she would rein in assorted rules and regulations pushed by Obama Administration bureaucrats with an axe to grind against toxic masculinity.
Speaking at George Mason University, DeVos said that “justice demands humility, wisdom and prudence. It requires a serious pursuit of truth.”
Campus feminist groups were incensed. To hear it from places like Cosmopolitan, its as though female college students are now fair game for rape.
“This is another cruel, heartless move from the Discrimination Administration,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “President Trump and Secretary DeVos are inviting schools to return to the days when survivors were shamed, blamed, ignored, and abandoned. Make no mistake: Title IX is working, and the only reason for this move is to legitimize discrimination and promote dangerous myths about rape.”
But that’s just not the case at all.
It is not to say that campus sexual assault isn’t a problem, but in the case of the Obama Education Department, the “solution” became a nightmare for any student who stood accused of sexual assault, no matter how flimsy the evidence. So while campus groups could claim they earned “better protection” from “rampant” campus sex abuse under the Obama-era policy, a number of students lost their due process rights — a serious crime in a nation that prides itself on the protection of individual rights.
According to DeVos, the policy, outlined in a 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter to college and university presidents from the Justice Department, resulted in hundreds of complaints to the DOE’s civil rights division, and mired a number of schools in expensive lawsuits.
The Dear Colleague letter, which the Obama Administration enforced under penalty of loss of Title IX grant funding, claimed that campus sexual harassment and sexual violence were forms of gender inequality, and should therefore be adjudicated at the campus level, rather than turned over to authorities to handle.
What seemed like a “streamline” had a dark underbelly: campus authorities were given only a short amount of time to handle cases of sexual assault, and investigations often weren’t completed properly. On campus, accused students weren’t afforded the same kind of due process protections given to those accused of crimes in the wider world, and at most schools, students were presumed guilty until they were proven innocent. The Dear Colleague letter itself specified that schools should not use the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard employed by America’s criminal justice system, but rather a “clear and convincing evidence” standard, that required accusing students to provide litte evidence beyond their own testimony to convict their accused former partner.
On top of that, the Dear Colleague letter was a form of legislation that bypassed the typical DOE procedures: there was no comment period or investigatory period, so it was simply put into force without considering the consequences. Everyone from the American Association of University Professors, to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, to a collection of Harvard University Law faculty, opposed the Dear Colleague letter, but blinded by radical feminists who pushed to trample the rights of the accused, the Obama Administration implemented it anyway.
A number of schools moved back from the “clear and convincing” standard after students sued, and others are considering changing their policies altogether — DeVos has, of course, now sped up that process.