Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

Betsy DeVos Thinks Accused College Rapists Should Have More Rights

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Howard Terry | 10 September, 2017, 02:14

Earlier this summer, DeVos met with groups that represent the accused, including the representatives of the National Coalition for Men, and organizations that advocate for those accused of sexual assault, such as Stop Abusive and Violent Environments and Families Advocating for Campus Equality.

Debate has flared in recent years over the 2011 guidance from the Obama administration, which requires schools to investigate all complaints of sexual assault and details how they must conduct disciplinary proceedings.

The Trump administration has insensitively approached the issue of sexual assault from the beginning, with Candice Jackson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Operations and Outreach in the Office for Civil Rights and the top civil rights official at the Department of Education, telling the New York Times that 90 percent of accusations "fall into the category of 'we were both drunk, ' 'we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.'" This dismissive statement trivializes the incredibly hard and courageous decision victims make to come forward in pursuit of justice.

"One rape is one too many, one assault is one too many, one aggressive act of harassment is one too many, one person denied due process is one too many", DeVos told a crowd at George Mason University. No Obama official ever acknowledged that the administration's policy had generated a flood of lawsuits from accused students.

The call was organized by the advocacy organization End Rape On Campus. She strongly endorsed efforts by universities to provide academic and other forms of accommodations to victimized students. During her confirmation hearing, DeVos would not say if she would uphold the Obama-era guidance. Sexual assault victims must know their rights.

Some education leaders from the Obama administration disputed the characterizations made in DeVos's speech.

DeVos tried to frame the decision to revisit Title IX as a win for fair process, stating that "Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously". In this respect, the notorious 2015 comments of Colorado congressman Jared Polis (for which he later issued a half-hearted apology) can be seen as a type of "Kinsley gaffe"- wherein a politician accidentally says what he really thinks. In these cases, colleges do not have to worry about the removal of those funds if they expel an accused student, but only if they fail to do so and the federal Department of Education arbitrarily determines they were not aggressive enough in ousting an accused student.

The speech drew about two dozen protesters who gathered outside the auditorium, including some women who said they were assaulted on their campuses. Universities do not have the same authority as legal institutions; they can not issue warrants for arrest, summon witnesses, or change venues.

She went on to say that DeVos "has sought the demise of public education".

UT said in a statement it would continue to enforce its existing policies "in compliance with Title IX, the Clery Act, and the regulations implementing those laws". Even on this technical issue, she exposed the radicalism of her predecessor's policy.

DeVos claimed the current guidelines were disliked by all parties and that universities "forced to be judge and jury" felt the guidelines were causing enforcement to "run amok".

"As long as I am governor of this commonwealth, I am going to protect victims of sexual assault and work to eradicate it from our commonwealth, regardless of what they do in Washington", Wolf said Wednesday.

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