DeVos Vows a ‘Better Way’ on Campus Sex Assaults

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Betsy DeVos. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

The Trump administration will rewrite an Obama-era directive on handling campus sex assaults, says Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, McClatchy Newspapers reports. She said the system has failed both victims and the accused.

Her stance sets the stage for a dramatic reversal of how Title IX, the 1972 law that bars discrimination based on sex in education, is enforced. She was sharply critical of the 2011 message to colleges and universities from President Obama’s Education Department that established how colleges should enforce the law.

See also: Campus Sex Assaults: The ‘False Choice’ Between Equality and Freedom

“If a school knows or reasonably should know about student-on-student harassment that creates a hostile environment, Title IX requires the school to take immediate action to eliminate the harassment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects,” said the message.

DeVos, speaking at George Mason University, took aim at that letter, declaring that the “era of rule by letter is over.” She did not immediately rescind the policy, but launched a public comment period before the Trump administration embarks on what she termed “a better way.”

“Through intimidation and coercion, the failed system has clearly pushed schools to overreach. 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…,” DeVos said. “Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined.”

More than two dozen protesters, some of them representing campus sexual assault survivor groups, stood behind metal barricades outside and chanted “Stop, Betsy, Stop” and “Shame on you, not on us” as DeVos spoke.

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