Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced earlier this month in a speech that the Department of Education will review and possibly replace Obama-era guidance on college campus sexual assault cases.
In the speech, given at George Mason University, DeVos calls a 2011 Obama Administration letter titled “Dear Colleague Letter” a “failed system” under Title IX but said that the previous administration had “helped elevate this issue in American public life.”
Title IX requires schools that receive federal funds not to discriminate on the basis of sex.
“The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students. Survivors, victims of lack of due process and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved,” said DeVos during her speech.
The letter gave universities instructions on how schools must investigate and adjudicate accusations of sexual assault.
UNC President and former secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, says she has continued to stay in touch with DeVos about innovative ways to approach this issue.
“There’s a model in Virginia where we’ve created kind of a third way of adjudicating some of these issues and I think she’s open to that,” said Spellings.
The decision to review the letter’s guidelines has critics claiming that removing them would take away university protections and support from victims of sexual assault.
DeVos’ says the current guidelines do not require due process protections for those accused of sexual assault, which fails both victims and the accused.
“Any failure to address sexual misconduct on campus fails all students. Any school that refuses to take seriously a student who reports sexual misconduct is one that discriminates. And any school that uses a system biased toward finding a student responsible for sexual misconduct also commits discrimination,” said DeVos.