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DeVos Announces End To Obama-Era Campus Sexual Assault Guidelines: What Does It Mean For Our Kids?

by Countable | 9.8.17

What’s the story?

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos set off a firestorm of reactions when she announced, during a speech at George Mason University in Virginia on Thursday that the Education Department would begin the process of rolling back Obama-era guidelines around the handling of sexual assault investigations on college campuses.

DeVos stated that the guidance denied those accused due process and created "victims" beyond the original accusers.

Why does it matter?

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex for schools and programs that receive federal funding. This includes protection from sexual harassment.

In a guidance issued in 2011, referred to as the "Dear Colleague" letter, the Obama administration reminded colleges and universities of their legal obligations to protect students against sexual assault and outlined specific guidelines for investigations and hearings. The letter also reminded schools that federal funding could be pulled if sexual assault and harassment investigations were not handled adequately.

CNN reports DeVos stated that the system is not working:

"The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students. Survivors, victims of a lack of due process and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved."

Critics of the move, including former Vice President Joe Biden, have called DeVos’s plan a step backwards:

"Today's announcement that the Department of Education plans to rewrite key Title IX guidance which works to address and prevent sexual assault in our schools is a step in the wrong direction. The truth is, although people don't want to talk about the brutal reality of sexual assault, especially when it occurs in our most cherished institutions, it is our reality, and it must be faced head-on. And any change that weakens Title IX protections will be devastating."

But some applaud the move. Andrew Miltenberg, a lawyer who has represented multiple young men accused of campus sexual assault called the university adjudications "kangaroo courts" to the Washington Post:

"On campuses throughout the country, I’ve seen firsthand how colleges and universities are wrongfully implementing their own kangaroo courts to adjudicate accusations of sexual misconduct and destroying the lives of wrongfully accused male students. Title IX was meant to be a tool for fairness, not a means for colleges and universities to micromanage students’ sex lives."

DeVos did say that the department was beginning a process, not announcing a change in policy already accomplished. They will be soliciting public comments soon to inform their decisions.

What do you think?

Do you support the Department of Education stepping back from the Obama-era guidelines around sexual assault investigations? Do you fear the signal it sends to those experiencing sexual assault and harassment on campuses? Are you a college student or a parent of a current or future college student? What do you think of the moves DeVos is making?

Tell us what you think in the comments, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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(440)
  • Mancos
    09/08/2017
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    Why does this need to be "rolled back" instead of improved? If there are issues, fix them. Do not go backwards.

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  • Danielle
    09/08/2017
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    Betsy Devos is pretty much satan. She is a disgrace to women and America. As a female I am disgusted by her and I wish she would choke on her own words.

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  • Judith
    09/08/2017
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    DeVos is a snake who bought her way into this position! She is a coward and an evil, reprehensible person! If you want to be more easily sexually assaulted and protect your assaulter, go for it, Betsy. But leave the rest of the women in this country with some protections in place! And please, "oh boohoo, the assaulters lives are ruined"! Really?!?! Not the victim of their assault but the reputation of the assaulter is the focus of her concern? Disgusting! Here's a tip to the assaulters who don't want their lives ruined - DON'T ASSAULT WOMEN!!! What a horrid person this waste of human skin DeVos is!

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  • Stacey
    09/09/2017
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    As a College Professor who has participated in Title IX training, this is a vital to the protection of victims. It also helps to guide faculty, staff and administrators in how and when to report these crimes. Please help keep Title IX!

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  • PLD
    09/08/2017
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    The majority members of the United States Senate who approved of the appointment of Mrs. DeVos have a LOT of soul searching to do. Not only is she a blight on American public education and, thus, the future of youth and this country but, now, she's leaving steps taken to safeguard women on campuses moving backwards. Long after she's left office and her damage is done, this Congress will need to be working to rebuild. Shame on you!!

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  • Marina
    09/08/2017
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    This is absolutely appalling! Give out of control numbers or reported and unreported rapes in universities, this step protects the abusers and encourages rape culture! And proponents include wealthy, entitled, grossly unqualified woman and a man who makes a living as a lawyer defending male students who don't understand the definition of consent?? This IS third world country stuff.

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  • Liz
    09/08/2017
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    DeVos, has never set foot in a classroom as an educator. She is wealthy enough to have been a sheltered, protected, insulated idiot who has never had to fear for her life. How dare she roll this back? "NO" now means yes. Basically this administration is doing everything and anything to destroy the Obama legacy. Why? Racism. Do you think DeVos has ever had a meal with anyone of color? I'm sickened by this action and you should be too.

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  • Sarah
    09/08/2017
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    DeVos is complicit to rape. Great for our education culture. I will happily send my child to a university out of the country.

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  • Tondria
    09/08/2017
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    Why are we rolling this back? It seems that if it is not working then you add to it not remove it. It makes no sense at all. It really seems that everything that was done by the previous administration, no matter if it is good or bad, is being reversed, without even looking throughly at it. This is not the way to govern...not at all.

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  • Lindsay
    09/09/2017
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    I called, emailed, and tweeted at you urging you not to confirm this megalomaniac. Her rollback makes me absolutely sick. Stand up to this monster and joke of an administration.

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  • Kathy
    09/08/2017
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    DeVoss has no place in her position. She is a total fraud and nothing she does is in the best interest of anyone in the education arena.

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  • Azrael
    09/08/2017
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    It means no means yes What the hell are you people thinking Bad enough most rapes aren't reported now none will be

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  • Deirdre
    09/08/2017
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    So the guys that rape and commit violence on a girl can get away with it now. Well they already do but now devos is Ok with this. Another bad day for women everywhere. As a victim of date rape I can tell you this is just going to make the real victims worse. No one is going to report these crimes so now rich boys are going to get away with it. Way to go this is disgraceful

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  • Cheryl
    09/08/2017
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    This woman has just betrayed all women on college campus to go back to the dark ages of sexual assault. She should be ashamed to call herself a woman.

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  • Sharon
    09/08/2017
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    Betsy DeVos is a traitor to women everywhere. Standing with rapists is just evil.

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  • Amanee
    09/08/2017
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    This is ludicrous! Why promote rape culture?! If anything improve the policy instead of fully ridding of it. Do you know how hard it is for victims to even come forward or their abuse?! Why limit them. Do the proper investigations needed.

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  • Jo
    09/08/2017
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    Yet another Trump appointee who knows nothing on the subject of which she had "control". Betsy DeVos needs to improve HER education. She needs to be ousted from that position.

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  • Darin
    09/09/2017
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    Way to take the side of rapists, bullies, and sexual predators, Sec DeVos. You are doing more damage to our schools and individual student potential than I ever feared possible. Please remove this zealot from the cabinet.

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  • Christen
    09/08/2017
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    We must help protect our college women! When a lawyer who is the go-to guy for those who sexually assault women is a voice for this measure, you know it's harmful to women.

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  • Wendy
    09/08/2017
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    If nothing is harassment, then you don't need a security detail, Betsy. Also: why are you so cruel? Isn't it enough we already have to suffer your ignorance?

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