Trump administration to roll back Obama-era Title IX rape guidelines
Education secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education would revise Obama-era Title IX rules on campus sexual assault that resulted in short-circuiting due process and freedom of speech.
The nightmare on campus perpetrated by the misuse of Title IX to cover a wide range of transgressions against political correctness, as well as accusing male students of rape or sexual assault and denying them basic constitutional rights, was based on a "Dear Colleague" letter sent by the Obama administration to colleges receiving federal aid.
In 2011, responding to alarming rates of campus sexual violence, the Obama administration issued a "Dear Colleague" letter with guidelines for investigating and adjudicating sexual assault on more than 7,000 universities that get federal funding. The guidelines lowered the standard of proof in sexual assault cases and allowed accusers to appeal not-guilty findings. Federal funds would be withheld from schools that didn't comply.
But opponents, including leading law professors and civil libertarians, argue the guidelines disregard due process and have created another class of victims: innocent students who are accused of sexual assault, denied fair hearings and wrongly punished with suspension or expulsion.
DeVos said her department will develop guidelines that continue to protect sexual assault victims, while also ensuring fair hearings for the accused.
It will take time to undo the previous guidelines, DeVos suggested. "The process is an extended one but it is the intention to revoke or rescind the previous guidance around this," she told Crawford.
Earlier on Thursday, while delivering remarks at George Mason University, DeVos announced the administration would be taking steps to revise the current policy, by seeking "public feedback and combine institutional knowledge, professional expertise and the experiences of students to replace the current approach with a workable, effective and fair system."
The Education Department, DeVos said in her address, would be launching a "notice-and-comment process" to re-vamp the Obama-era policy on addressing sexual misconduct, incorporating the "insights of all parties in developing a better way."
While she condemned acts of sexual misconduct as "reprehensible, disgusting and unacceptable, they are acts of cowardice and personal weakness" DeVos criticized the investigative process of of Title IX investigations and cases.
"Any perceived offense can be turned into a full blown Title IX investigation. If everything is harassment than nothing is," said DeVos, a critique that suggested that the Obama administration had gone too far in writing its 2011 directive.
Hit and Run supplies some of the more egregious examples of how Title IX was misused:
Too many cases involve students and faculty who have faced investigation and punishment simply for speaking their minds or teaching their classes," said DeVos.
Consider the case of Northwestern University's Laura Kipnis, whose skepticism about rules forbidding sexual relationships between students and professors led to her being investigated under Title IX: "This Prof Dared to Challenge Her Students' Views on Sex. Here's How They Retaliated."
Or the case of Louisiana State University's Teresa Buchanan: "LSU Professor Fired for Telling Jokes Is Latest Victim of College Anti-Sex Hysteria."
Or a case at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where residence advisors claimed that making jokes about Harambe, the dead gorilla and internet meme, could constitute a violation of Title IX: "UMass-Amherst: Harambe Jokes Are Racist Microaggressions, Violate Title IX."
Then there are some Title IX cases DeVos neither mentioned nor implied, but could have easily served as examples of the sort of mania that has taken hold on campuses:
6. Amherst College
A male student was expelled for sexual assault, he even though he had credible evidence that his accuser had assaulted him: "Amherst Student Was Expelled for Rape. But He Was Raped, Evidence Shows."
7. Brandeis University
A gay male student accused his ex-boyfriend of sexual assault. Even though the alleged infractions – a stolen glance in the shower, a wake-up kiss – were incredibly silly, the investigator found the accused responsible for sexual misconduct: "Judge Sides with Gay Brandeis Student Guilty of 'Serious Sexual Transgression' for Kissing Sleeping Boyfriend."
Imagine being in this guy's shoes:
An athlete of color, Grant Neal, was accused of sexually assaulting a female trainer – but not by her. When questioned, the trainer said, "I'm fine and I wasn't raped." University officials pointed out that according to Title IX, they got to be the judge of that, not her. Neal was deemed guilty and expelled: "Female Student Said, 'I'm Fine and I Wasn't Raped.' University Investigated, Expelled Boyfriend Anyway."
The Obama rules turned the concept of "It's better that 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man be imprisoned" on its head. The SJWs and campus rape activists viewed the rules as an opportunity to stifle opposition speech and stick it to males, paying no price for ruining innocent people's lives.
For hundreds of male students, rescinding the rules comes too late. But the mothers of these students refuse to take the injustice lying down. They've formed an organization called FACE (Families Advocating for Campus Equality). FACE has spawned another group.
FACE in turned spawned a second group, called Save Our Sons, run by Alice True, who on her site recounts her own experience after her son - whose name and school she withholds to protect him as his case move through the courts -was expelled.
Like Warner-Seefeld's story, hers, as recounted on her site, began "when the phone rang late one night."
"'Don't worry mom, I'm fine but I've been taken out of my dorm room and moved elsewhere. . . . A girl and I had sex a few weeks ago . . . she filed a complaint against me. . . . She agreed to have sex, I have it in writing. . . . I don't know why she filed.
"Also Mom, I'm on suicide watch.'"
"Well," writes True, "I slowly learned over the months, that the college would do nothing to help my son through their Kafkaesque college investigation and hearing process. But the college would do everything and more to help the girl in all ways possible at all times. When we asked to see what the charges were or other pertinent questions we were met with no comment or you have to figure that out for yourself."
True, in an interview, declined to provide further detail to protect her son, whose case is in court where he is identified only as John Doe. He is now attending a different college, she said, and does not want him singled out.
"Because of the way the whole thing played out, I was so shocked and blindsided, I thought I need to do something," she told The Washington Post.
She became involved in FACE and decided to branch out on her own, starting her Save Our Sons site which, as she put it, describes through parents' eyes and news articles what she calls "a toxic environment in the way these boys are treated and the way these accusations are made."
Can DeVos bring sanity to the process? What the numerous examples that have been publicized (and perhaps hundreds more that have been covered up) show is that the inmates are in charge of the asylum, and getting them to act reasonably will take more than a revision of federal regulations.
But revising the regulations is a good first step.