House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, condemned new rules being implemented by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that gives due process to students accused of sexual assault on college campuses.
DeVos’ actions follow the controversy over the Obama administration’s rule that a “preponderance of evidence” standard be used for such cases instead of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The “preponderance” standard holds that it’s more likely than not that an incident occurred. Consequently, many students have been punished on evidence that would fail in a criminal court.
The regulations go to great lengths to require impartiality in investigations. They call on schools to conduct objective investigations and provide “prompt and equitable” resolutions. And, for the first time, the administration explicitly says that just as an institution’s treatment of a complainant could constitute sex discrimination, so would the treatment of the accused.
The regulations require that schools approach all investigations under the presumption that the accused is innocent until proved guilty.
.@BetsyDeVosED has consistently worked to undermine Title IX protections for survivors of campus sexual assault. Her plan to create extraordinary new barriers to justice for survivors is an insult to students across the country. https://t.co/enx9M5e6NF
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 30, 2018
Twitchy, the Twitter news curation site, noted California resident Cynthia Garrett responded to Pelosi’s tweet writing: “You either have no shame and are intentionally lying about the leaked draft Title IX policies, or you are embarrassingly uneducated about what has been proposed. Either way, call me one seriously unimpressed California resident.”
You either have no shame and are intentionally lying about the leaked draft Title IX policies, or you are embarrassingly uneducated about what has been proposed. Either way, call me one seriously unimpressed California resident.
— Cynthia P Garrett (@cgarrett101) August 31, 2018
As a lifelong democrat and financial supporter of the party — NO. DeVos is simply calling for accusers to be afforded a modicum of due process rights (the essence of a just and fair system).https://t.co/RAhRCO8TUy
— Carolina Curmudgeon (@carolinacurmudg) August 30, 2018
Here’s Pelosi’s full statement:
“Today is yet another chapter in the anti-student, anti-women and anti-equality agenda of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The reported plan to roll back critical protections, increase the burden of proof and create extraordinary new barriers to justice for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses is an insult to students.
“Campus sexual assault is an epidemic in America, with one in four women experiencing sexual abuse on college campuses. Seven years ago, the Obama Administration had the courage to say ‘Enough is enough,’ and took historic steps to ensure that every student feels safe at school. Yet, Secretary DeVos has continuously worked to undermine Title IX’s critical protections and the rights of students in an effort to push her harmful ideology and destructive special interest agenda.
“Democrats will always protect students, victims and survivors – not betray them. As we stand firm against this administration’s relentless attacks on the rights of women and students, we will continue to fight For The People to ensure our government works for everyone.”
The Education Department is drafting a new approach to campus sexual misconduct adjudication. It will permit colleges to adopt higher standards in hearings, mandate cross-examination of relevant parties in a dispute, and stress that all students are considered innocent until proven guilty, an official with knowledge of the proposal has confirmed to Reason.
If adopted as formal policy, these measures would go a long way toward fixing the due process deficiencies that plagued the Obama administration’s guidance relating to Title IX, the federal statute that deals with sex discrimination in schools.
This news was first reported by The New York Times, which obtained a leaked draft of the new rules. The Education Department had not planned to release details to the public yet; as such, the agency declined comment to the Times. But Reason was able to confirm that the Education Department is indeed mulling the changes detailed in the Times story.
Cross-examination is a key component of due process and an important tool for arriving at the truth of a dispute. But under the previous administration’s Title IX guidance, university officials were discouraged from extending this right to students accused of sexual misconduct, under the theory that scrutinizing alleged victims would be traumatizing.
The new policy would mandate cross-examination in situations where a school’s adjudication process involves a live hearing, and it would require an effective substitute in all other cases.
These modifications to the federal government’s enforcement of Title IX are bound to provoke the ire of those feminists who claim accusers should receive preferential treatment in disputes. But for everyone who values basic fairness in campus sexual misconduct procedures, Secretary Betsy DeVos’s plan looks like a massive victory.
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