Three Democrat senators are using the coronavirus pandemic to urge Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to delay providing college students their constitutional rights to due process.
Of course, that’s not how the senators worded their letter to DeVos, sent Tuesday, but that is the gist of their argument since they are demanding DeVos delay new Title IX regulations that change the way schools across the country adjudicate claims of sexual misconduct. DeVos’ proposed rules would require schools to provide accused students the ability to properly defend themselves from allegations, a basic tenet of the justice system that has been absent in college Title IX tribunals.
Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) were the only three senators to sign the letter, saying that “while schools are grappling with how to maintain basic services for and supports to their students, it is wholly unacceptable for the Department to finalize a rule that fundamentally will change the landscape of how schools are required to respond to incidents of sexual harassment and assault, and we urge you to reconsider this misguided plan.”
“K-12 schools and institutions of higher education face unprecedented uncertainty about the end of this school year and the start of the next school year. The federal government should be doing everything possible to help them navigate these uncertain times. To ask K-12 schools and institutions of higher education to implement in this moment of crisis and extreme uncertainty a rule that, as proposed, would force them to significantly alter how they handle allegations of sexual harassment and assault is reckless and inappropriate,” the senators continued. “We urge you not to release the final Title IX rule at this time and instead to focus on helping schools navigate the urgent issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic that is top of the mind for all students and families.”
The lack of due process rights have led to students (almost exclusively male students) finding themselves with only one option to clear their names and defend themselves: Sue their schools in a court of law. Unfortunately, many of the students accused do not have the financial means to file a lawsuit. Still, more than 600 lawsuits have been filed alleging Title IX violations by accused students since the Obama administration urged schools to find more students responsible.
In 2011, the Obama administration issued guidance that suggested schools needed to find more students responsible in order to show they were taking sexual misconduct seriously, while providing almost no due process rights for accused students. Women have since used Title IX to punish men who rejected them, avoid getting kicked out of school, or for sympathy. To date, more than 200 court rulings have favored accused students and blasted schools for ignoring evidence that the male student was not guilty of what he was accused.
In response to the senators’ letters, criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield tweeted sarcastically: “To ask schools to implement in this moment of crisis and extreme uncertainty a rule that would force them to [provide male students with minimal due process] is reckless and inappropriate.”
Samantha Harris, an attorney with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, added: “These transparent efforts, from people who have made clear from the get-go that they will do anything they can to stop these regs from ever being implemented, are absurd. They are exploiting this crisis, plain and simple.”
These transparent efforts, from people who have made clear from the get-go that they will do anything they can to stop these regs from ever being implemented, are absurd. They are exploiting this crisis, plain and simple. https://t.co/v3T8JZBNHC
— Samantha Harris (@samk_harris) March 31, 2020