DeVos Moves To Rewrite Campus Sexual Assault Rules

Sep 11, 2017

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos thinks students accused of campus sexual assault aren’t getting a fair shake. And she’s going to change that.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos moved in big last week on the issue of sexual assault on college campuses, pushing back on Obama-era policy under Title IX that has compelled colleges and universities to get much tougher on sexual assault. The message from DeVos last week is the pendulum has swung too far toward victim’s rights. The rights of the accused need more attention. That is getting attention all over. This hour, On Point: Campus sexual assault, and the Trump-era push back on Obama-era protections. — Tom Ashbrook


Sarah Brown, reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education (@Brown_e_Points)

Vanessa Grigoriadis, contributing editor at The New York Times and Vanity Fair. Author of “Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus” (@vanessagrigor)

Frank Merckx, dean of students at Drew University. Former member of the New Jersey Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: DeVos decries ‘failed system’ on campus sexual assualt, vows to replace it — “She said the department would go through a formal process seeking public input in order to replace the current system with a more effective and just system. “Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously,” she said. “Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined. “These are non-negotiable principles.” DeVos criticized a key element of Obama’s policy: that schools use a standard known as “preponderance of the evidence” when weighing sexual misconduct cases.”

Newsweek: Betsy DeVos is Harming Sexual Assault Victims by Changing Title IX Guidance, Advocates Say — “To those tracking the Title IX issue, the announcement on Thursday was not surprising. In January, during her Senate confirmation hearing, DeVos refused to say whether she would uphold the 2011 guidance. After the confirmation, advocates for victims of sexual assault launched efforts to convince her to maintain the Obama-era protections. In July, the education secretary met with advocates for sexual assault victims and with advocates for accused students, including some who have been described as “men’s rights” activists.”

POLITICO Magazine: How to See Justice Done on Campus Sexual Assault — “Campus sexual assault is a very serious problem, and survivors suffer lifelong trauma. The Department of Education is right to insist that schools hold their attackers to account. But the Obama guidelines created a new class of victims: students expelled and branded sexual assailants based on a disciplinary process that deprived them of crucial rights. Without those basic rights—to some form of cross examination, to see the witness statements against them, to a standard of proof higher than a preponderance of the evidence — these students lacked the tools to expose the substantial questions that exist in some of these cases.”

Read an excerpt from Vanessa Grigoriadis’s new book: “Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus”

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit