Betsy DeVos Plans to Weaken Obama’s Campus Sexual Assault Rules

She called the rules “wholly unAmerican.”

Susan Walsh/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

The Department of Education announced on Thursday that it will weaken a set of requirements for how colleges and universities are expected to handle cases of sexual assault on college campuses. In a speech at George Mason University in Virginia, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos criticized a set of rules that the department had issued in 2011 that, under Title IX, forced colleges to conduct their own investigations and stated police reports cannot be used to determine whether a violation occurred, because a criminal case requires stronger evidence. 

The Department of Education will take comments from the public before issuing new guidelines, though DeVos’ remarks suggest that the new standard will likely to be a significant departure from the Obama-era rules. DeVos called the current process for handling sexual misconduct “shameful,” a “failed system,” and “wholly unAmerican.”

“The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students,” DeVos said. “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 Obama-era rule have argued that it does not offer adequate due process for the students accused of sexual misconduct. Under the directive, institutions of higher education use the “preponderance of evidence” standard, which requires a 51 percent certainty in determining guilt. Sexual violence is often difficult to prove to a higher certainty, and false accusations are extremely rare. But in July, DeVos’ deputy in charge of civil rights suggested that 90 percent of sexual assault allegations at colleges are false.

“Any school that refuses to take seriously a student who reports sexual misconduct is one that discriminates,” DeVos said during her remarks. “And any school that uses a system biased toward finding a student responsible for sexual misconduct also commits discrimination.”

You can watch DeVos’ full remarks below.

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $170,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign that ends Saturday. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

We have about a $170,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign that ends Saturday. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate