Former Vice President Joe Biden is promising to scrap newly proposed guidelines by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos meant to ensure that individuals being accused of sexual misconduct on college campuses receive due process.
Biden, who most notably led the Obama administration’s “It’s On Us” campaign as vice president, criticized the education secretary on Wednesday for making college campuses “less safe.” In particular, the former vice president claimed DeVos’s “new rule gives colleges a green light to ignore sexual violence and strip survivors of their rights.”
“Survivors deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced,” Biden said in a statement.
The statement came shortly after Devos and the Department of Education announced new regulations mandating that colleges and universities give individuals accused of sexual misconduct formal complaints, which are to be adjudicated in a courtroom-like setting.
Under prior Obama administration guidelines, colleges were allowed to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard when determining the guilt of those accused. Such regulations often led to lawsuits alleging the infringement of civil liberties, as many of the accused were not allowed to cross-examine witnesses.
Devos’s new regulations will allow representatives for not only victims but also the accused to call witnesses and challenge evidence. Such hearings, which will be either conducted in-person or virtually, will have to now to rely on a “clear and convincing” standard, rather than just a “preponderance of the evidence.” When investigating complaints, colleges will also have to rely on trained personnel to evaluate evidence and make final decisions.
The former vice president said on Wednesday:
Trump’s Education Department … is trying to shame and silence survivors, and take away parents’ peace of mind… as President, I’ll be … on the side of survivors, who deserve to have their voices heard, their claims taken seriously and investigated, and their rights upheld.
Biden’s attack on DeVos and the Trump administration comes as the former vice president, himself, is under fire and facing accusations of sexual assault.
Late last month, Tara Reade, who came forward in April 2019 to accuse the former vice president of unwanted touching and sexual harassment, revealed there was more to her story. Reade now claims he pushed her up against a wall and forcibly penetrated her with his fingers, while she was briefly employed by his Senate office in the early 1990s.
The accusation has been difficult to corroborate given that nearly 30 years have passed since it supposedly took place. As such, Reade has sought to make public the sexual harassment complaint she allegedly filed in 1993, especially as former Biden staffers claim no such document exists.
Reade, for her part, has contended that not only does the complaint exist, but it is likely within the thousands of Senate documents the former vice president donated to the University of Delaware in 2011.