- Department of Education Facebook
The Department of Education (ED) will begin review of an Obama-era directive on the way colleges investigate and enforce sexual assault claims, Secretary Betsy DeVos announced in a speech at George Mason University Thursday.
“The era of rule by letter is over,” DeVos said, referencing the current guidance which was first introduced by President Obama in a 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter.
DeVos called the current guidance heavy handed and that it pushed colleges “to overreach,” but said the current rules will remain in place as the ED goes through a notice-and-comment review process.
Critics of the current guidance say the rules diminish the rights of the accused by directing colleges to use a lower standard of proof in ruling a student guilty of sexual assault.
DeVos echoed this belief, noting both the victims and accused. “One assault is one too many. One aggressive act of harassment is one too many. One person denied due process is one too many,” she said.
The announcement confirmed the worries of sexual assault advocates that the ED may dismantle current sexual assault rules.
“Don’t be duped by today’s announcement. What seems procedural is a blunt attack on survivors of sexual assault,” Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, said in a statement to Business Insider. “It will discourage schools from taking steps to comply with the law-just at the moment when they are finally working to get it right.”