New rules implemented by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos bolsters the rights of those accused of misconduct on campuses.
Much has been written about the “kangaroo” courts on college campuses that punish students accused of sexual misconduct without the kind of due process procedure that they are afforded by the laws of this country. Now, the Education Department is stepping in to ensure that those accused of misconduct on college campuses are given a chance to defend themselves.
In a statement by the Education Department, officials argue that current campus policies strip due process rights from those accused of sexual misconduct.
The department recognizes that despite well-intentioned efforts by school districts, colleges and universities, advocacy organizations and the department itself, sexual harassment and assault continue to present serious problems across the nation’s campuses. The lack of clear regulatory standards has contributed to processes that have not been fair to all parties involved, that have lacked appropriate procedural protections and that have undermined confidence in the reliability of the outcomes of investigations of sexual harassment allegations.
“The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students,” DeVos said in a comment last fall. “Survivors, victims of a lack of due process and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved.”
DeVos has been consistently outspoken about her distaste for an Obama-era policy that lowered the proof standard for campus sexual assault incident to the lowest legal standard possible.
Analysts at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) are satisfied with DeVos’ policy change, arguing that it will afford more student the due process protections that they deserve. “Going solely by what has so far been reported, it sounds as though the proposed rules will go a long way towards restoring meaningful due process protections to the campus justice system, which will benefit both accusers and the accused,” said Robert L. Shibley, the executive director at FIRE.