College rape policy a ‘failed system’ says DeVos, sparking outrage
DeVos gave a speech to around 100 people at George Mason University in Virginia on Thursday, in which she criticized the 2011 Title IX guidance rules implemented by President Barack Obama amid public outcry directed at college campuses for their rape and sexual assault victim protections.
The secretary plans to implement a public comment period to help formulate new federal regulations for sexual assault on campuses, according to Inside Higher Ed.
The part of the rule in question, a standard called “preponderance of the evidence,” outlines steps colleges and universities are required to take when dealing with sexual assault accusations on campus. It orders the school to come up with a comprehensive and robust resolution to an accusation of sexual assault, as opposed to having a victim wait to take their case through to the courts. Under the directive, if colleges do not voluntarily implement the rule, federal funding may be withheld.
DeVos pledged to replace the current directive with a “workable, effective, and fair system,” New York Magazine reported.
While sharing support for victims, DeVos also sympathized with those accused who are denied due process, saying that even one person who is denied their rights is too many. This outraged many on Twitter, even before any formal change to the rule has come to fruition.
Protesters gathered outside where DeVos spoke after hearing of her plans to nix the directive. One protester was heard shouting, “Stop supporting rapists!” and “Shame on you! Not on us!” the Washington Post reported.
#Devos doesn't give✌️ fucks about rape survivors. She's aiding & abetting a president who has openly admitted to sexually assaulting women.— c l a u d i a ✂️ (@ClaudiaStellar) September 7, 2017
The president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, Fatima Goss Graves, responded to DeVos’s speech by saying it is “a blunt attack on survivors of sexual assault. . . . It sends a frightening message to all students: your government does not have your back if your rights are violated.”
By stripping away Title IX, Betsy DeVos is showing that this education department would rather protect rapists than victims.#StopBetsy— Simar (@sahluwal) September 7, 2017
Lawyer Andrew Miltenberg, who has represented many male students accused of sexual assault, agreed with DeVos and thinks there is more to the story than protesters are letting on.
“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,” he said, according to the Post.
In 2014, Rolling Stone published an article detailing an alleged 2012 rape of a student that took place at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The story was soon found to have inconsistencies and was later retracted. Rolling Stone later admitted they relied too much on the victim’s side of the story and did not work adequately to confirm it.
The real names of the alleged assailants and the victim in the article were not used, but Nicole Eramo, an associate dean of students at the university, was mentioned by name. Eramo later successfully sued the publication for defamation after she claimed Rolling Stone portrayed her as being indifferent to a sexual assault allegation.