Published: Fri, September 22, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Trump Rescinds Obama's Campus Sexual Assault Rule

Trump Rescinds Obama's Campus Sexual Assault Rule

Earlier this month, the department said 360 sexual violence cases were under investigation at 250 colleges and universities.

The Department of Education's decision today came less than two weeks after DeVos announced that she would begin a new rule-making procedure to determine how best to guide colleges and universities in handing sexual misconduct claims under Title IX, a federal law which prohibits discrimination in education.

The Education Department said the new guidance does not absolve schools of their duty to "confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on".

College administrators who handle issued under Title IX, which requires schools to address sexual violence on campus, say this interim period could make it more hard for them to do their jobs. "But the process also must be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes". Those rules will be in place temporarily while the Education Department gathers comments from interest groups and the public and writes new guidance.

The 2011 Dear Colleague Letter required schools to adopt a minimal standard of proof-the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard-in administering student discipline, even though many schools had traditionally employed a higher clear-and-convincing-evidence standard.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said repeatedly the Obama-era rules denied due process rights to students accused of sexual assault.

DeVos echoed this belief in her speech, noting both the victims and accused. This standard, lower than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard used in criminal cases, only suggests that universities must find that a student is more likely than not to have committed an act of sexual violence to sanction them.

"We will continue to respond to all reports of possible sexual misconduct by offering and providing support and resources to those who need it, by objectively and thoroughly investigating reports and by conducting any related proceedings in a manner that assures due process, as well as fairness and dignity to all participants", the statement read.

The new guidance addresses one of the more controversial guidelines: standard of evidence.

Andrew Miltenberg, a NY lawyer who represents students accused of sexual assault, described Obama's standard as only "50.1 percent certain" and said that it ignored the presumption of innocence and put the burden on the accused to prove that the assault did not happen.

In July, Mrs DeVos's top civil rights deputy, Candice Jackson, provoked outrage when she told a reporter that 90% of campus rape investigations "fall into the category of "we were both drunk".

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