DeVos proposes new rules for sexual assault on campus

Katherine Pecora, Staff Writer

 

Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is preparing new policies regarding campus sexual misconduct that would reform the rights of the students accused of assault, harassment, or rape.

These new rules obtained by the New York Times streamline the definition of sexual harassment, assault and rape. The new policy holds schools accountable for formal complaints filed through proper authorities and for assaults occurring on college campuses.

These changes have come at a time when many high-profile universities are experiencing public cases of sexual assault. Ohio State University, the University of Southern California, and Michigan State University have had to deal with the explosive fallout of high-level sexual misconduct.

The New York Times stated: “Last fall, Ms. DeVos rescinded a 2011 letter prepared by the Obama administration that outlined the responsibilities of schools and colleges that receive federal funding to address episodes of sexual misconduct. Victims’ rights groups praised the Obama-era guidelines for aggressively holding schools accountable for complaints of sexual harassment, assault and rape that they said had often been played down or ignored. But critics contended that too often they trampled due-process rights for accused students.”

The new rules also implement Secretary DeVos’ policy of mediation to reach informal resolutions. This allows a victim to request evidence from the perpetrator or visa-versa to determine what happened in the situation. Under the Obama administration policy, mediation was declared not appropriate, even if it was voluntary. The policy of President Obama strongly discouraged the two parties’ ability to personally question each other in hearings. These new rules also only require schools to investigate instances of assault or harassment that occur on campuses. This would prevent universities from investigating cases of sexual assault taking place outside of their jurisdiction. The Obama administration previously mandated that schools are required to investigate a complaint regardless of the location of the incident.

Presenting examples such as the occurences in Ohio State and USC neglect to show the full picture. The avoidance of talking about sexual assault on college campuses  often becomes an avoidance of talking about sex, when it is not about sex–it is about assault.

 

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