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General News    H3'ed 5/27/20

New Edu. Dept. Rule Eases Up on Students Accused of Sexual Assault

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Betsy DeVos
Betsy DeVos
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In the nearly four years the Trump administration has been in office, it has emboldened white supremacists, weakened environmental and financial regulations, handed a $1.5 trillion permanent tax break to corporations and the wealthy, caged asylum seekers at the Southern border in concentration camps, coddled the so-called "Christian" right, trampled on civil rights laws, was impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and shrugged off preventable COVID-19 deaths of 100,000 Americans.

Another group to which the administration--specifically the U.S. Education Department--is giving a hand: college students and faculty accused of sexual assault.

Earlier this month, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued final rules to American academic institutions on how to address sexual misconduct allegations that alter the Title IX law that prohibits "discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance."

Beginning in August, the definition of sexual harassment will now require schools to challenge evidence and hold live hearings in which to cross-examine students, and schools will only be held in Title IX violation if they are found to be "deliberately indifferent" to sexual assault allegations that occur in academic programs and activities.

This extends the Sept. 2017 suspension of Obama-era regulations DeVos instituted after meeting with "men's rights" groups.

Senate Education Committee chairman, Sen. Lamar Alexander, said in a statement:

"This final rule respects and supports victims and preserves due process rights for both the victim and the accused."

Critics against the rule caution it will stifle survivors and limit their educational opportunities.

Many schools object to being compelled to serve as ersatz trial courts.

Senior vice president of the American Council on Education, Terry Hartle, explained:

"We are not set up to do that. We do not have the legal authority to do that. We don't have the social legitimacy to do that. We want to teach students. We don't want to run courts."

Sage Carson, manager of sexual assault survivor advocacy group "Know Your IX," countered:

"This is extremely worrisome. [The new regulations] make it clear to me that DeVos cares more about schools and [accused students] than she does about survivors."

She added:

"Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration have shown, once again, that they have no interest in supporting student survivors and their rights. [The new Title IX policy] makes it harder for survivors to report sexual violence and easier for schools to sweep sexual violence under the rug."

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Ted Millar is a writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Straight Forward Poetry, Better Than Starbucks, the Broke Bohemian, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices (more...)

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