Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: Title IX Final Rule ‘Balances Scales of Justice’

Betsy DeVos
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday the new federal Title IX rule that specifies how schools must handle allegations of sexual misconduct is a win for both victims and the accused.

In an interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow, DeVos said the new regulations have been “a long time in the making” and “give historic recognition of sexual harassment as sex discrimination.”

The secretary emphasized the new rule “empowers and protects victims” of sexual misconduct, “protects due process rights for those who are accused,” and will “balance the scales of justice on college campuses.”

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Some of the new features of the rule include spelling out alleged victims’ right to supportive services, such as class or dorm changes, and an option of whether to file a formal complaint.

Those accused of sexual misconduct will not be presumed guilty, according to the new rule. They will be entitled to written notice of allegations, the right to an advocate, and the right to cross-examination.

The department released the final rule Wednesday. It specifies how schools that receive federal financial aid are required to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct.

The proposed rule was released a year ago and received over 124,000 public comments.

Many Democrats and feminist groups used the already debunked “1 in 5” statistic to urge opposition to the proposed rule. The stat refers to the notion that “one in five women experience sexual assault or attempted assault while in college.”

However, that statistic — spread widely by the Obama administration through its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — is “wildly at odds with the official crime statistics,” said American Enterprise Institute (AEI) resident scholar and former philosophy professor Christina Hoff Sommers.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the actual rate of sexual assault on college campuses is 6.1 per 1,000 students, or .03 per five. The rate of rape and sexual assault for non-students is actually 1.2 times higher than for students — 7.6 per 1,000.

“Where did the CDC find more than a million and nearly 14 million victims of sexual violence that professional criminologists somehow overlooked?” Sommers asked. “It found them by using a poorly constructed telephone survey with a low response rate and a non-representative sample of respondents. No one interviewed was asked if they had been raped or sexually assaulted.”

Armed with the false “1 in 5” statistic, however, the Obama administration threatened to cut funding to colleges and universities that did not implement its policy.

The Obama administration also instructed colleges and universities to use the lesser “preponderance of evidence” standard to resolve allegations of sexual misconduct, rather than the higher “clear and convincing evidence” standard.

The new rule allows schools the option of using either the “preponderance of evidence” standard to resolve the allegations or the “clear and convincing evidence” standard.

DeVos observed three federal courts have said students accused of sexual misconduct were not provided with due process in the cases decided on campus.

For example, in June 2019, Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, led a unanimous, all-woman panel of judges in reversing a lower court’s decision to dismiss a college student’s claim his right to due process was not honored, and that he was discriminated against because of his sex in a campus sex assault investigation.

In her decision in Doe v. Purdue University, Barrett, who was appointed by President Trump, observed “John Doe” “adequately alleged” Purdue University violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights “by using constitutionally flawed procedures to determine his guilt or innocence,” and that the school had violated Title IX “by imposing a punishment infected by sex bias.”

Barrett added the evidence in the case suggests the Purdue Advisory Committee “decided that John was guilty based on the accusation rather than the evidence.”

“Over 170 cases have been overturned in this way,” the secretary noted, continuing the Obama administration’s decision to manage the problem of campus sex assaults through a “Dear Colleague” letter in 2011 had neither the force of law behind it nor emphasis on the need for due process.

“The rules were unevenly applied,” DeVos said. “Every campus set up their own process.”

She also noted that, when due process of the accused is not provided, the case is relitigated, often several times, requiring the complainant to retell the traumatic details of the alleged harassment or assault.

The secretary said the new rule “will be very clear” regarding the colleges’ and universities’ responsibilities. Additionally, the regulations address sexual harassment in K-12 schools which, she said, has gone “underreported to a large extent.”

Asked by Marlow if she expects the new rule to be met with resistance on campuses, DeVos responded schools will be required to have their Title IX training materials published online.

“The rule will help ensure this is a reliable process and fairly implemented based on a framework that is now, essentially, law,” she said.

Marlow then asked DeVos about China’s influence on American college campuses.

She noted her department’s investigations into some schools’ failure to report foreign gifts and investments.

DeVos also encouraged parents who find themselves engaged in at-home learning with their children during the coronavirus pandemic.

She urged parents not to attempt to replicate the school day at home.

“The reality is kids can continue learning no matter where they are,” she said. “There are tremendous resources available today — increasing numbers of resources.”

The secretary urged more flexibility in approaching K-12 education in particular.

“I think there will be some important learnings and findings coming out of this, and, I think, frankly, some longer term changes in how we approach K-12 education,” DeVos added.

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