Education Secretary Betsy DeVos took a big step toward changing the way that sexual misconduct cases are treated on college campuses Friday, releasing an interim guidance instructing universities to be “fair and impartial” when handling cases.
Earlier this month, DeVos blasted the Obama administration for creating “kangaroo courts” on college campuses.
“Through intimidation and coercion, the failed system has clearly pushed schools to overreach,” she told students at George Mason University. “With the heavy hand of Washington tipping the balance of her scale, the sad reality is that Lady Justice is not blind on campuses today. This unraveling of justice is shameful, it is wholly un-American, and it is anathema to the system of self-governance to which our Founders pledged their lives over 240 years ago.”
On Friday, the Department of Education announced that it would withdraw the Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Violence of April 4, 2011, and the Questions and Answers on Title IX Sexual Violence of April 29, 2014, both of which urged college administrators to aggressively discipline cases of sexual misconduct.
“The withdrawn documents ignored notice and comment requirements, created a system that lacked basic elements of due process and failed to ensure fundamental fairness,” the department contended in a statement.
DeVos plans to replace the maligned system with one that requires a higher standard of proof against accused students, instead of the “preponderance of evidence” standard set into place during the Obama era.
“In the coming months, hearing from survivors, campus administrators, parents, students and experts on sexual misconduct will be vital as we work to create a thoughtful rule that will benefit students for years to come,” she said. “We also will continue to work with schools and community leaders to better address preventing sexual misconduct through education and early intervention.”