Betsy DeVos Wants New Rules on Campus Rape. People Are Pissed

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will not rescind Obama-era guidelines that pushed colleges to take more steps to deal with sexual harassment and assault — yet.

But the Education Department is taking the first steps toward eventually rewriting them, DeVos announced in a speech Thursday that harshly criticized the Obama administration’s approach as “intimidation and coercion.”

The current guidelines hurt both sexual assault survivors and people who are accused, DeVos said in a speech at the Antonin Scalia School of Law at George Mason University on Thursday. She also said those guidelines make college administrators less likely to report issues on campus, as they are afraid the federal government will start investigating them.

“The era of ‘rule by letter’ is over,” DeVos said, referencing the 2011 letter Obama administration officials sent colleges that signaled the Office for Civil Rights would aggressively investigate colleges for mishandling sexual assault.

“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 announced the Education Department will open the issue up for public comment — the first step in potentially writing new regulations.

That came as a surprise to many who thought she would rescind the Obama-era guidance outright. Beyond that, though, DeVos’s speech sent a clear signal: In her view, the Obama administration’s aggressive investigation of colleges for mishandling cases of sexual assault went too far.

People on Twitter are speaking up about DeVos’s new crusade to revamp Title IX policies in a way that lessens the burden on accused rapists.

 

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