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 DeVos: Too many college students have been treated unfairly under Obama-era sexual assault policy

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PostSubject: DeVos: Too many college students have been treated unfairly under Obama-era sexual assault policy   Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:55 pm

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday that too many students have been treated unfairly as colleges have sought to comply with Obama-era policy on handling sexual assault, but she declined to offer any specifics about how she intends to move forward on one of the more controversial and closely watched issues handled by her agency.



“No student should feel like there isn’t a way to seek justice, and no student should feel that the scales are tipped against him or her,” she told reporters Thursday afternoon, following what she called an “emotionally draining” series of meetings with college administrators, survivors of assault and students who said they were falsely accused and wrongly disciplined.

The day after her civil rights chief suggested that 90 percent of assault allegations are the result of drunken and regretted sex rather than rape, DeVos sought to show sensitivity to victims, saying that assault allegations should not be “swept under the rug” and women should not be “dismissed.”

But she also said she was deeply concerned about addressing the concerns of the accused. “Their stories are not often shared,” she said.

Advocates for accused students have been pleased to have the ear of the Trump administration, seeing an opening to roll back Obama-era policies that they argue have results in biased campus sexual assault investigations. During the Thursday session devoted to wrongful accusations, about a half-dozen students (including one woman) told their stories, often tearfully, according to Cynthia Garrett, co-president of Families Advocating for Campus Equality, who was in the meeting.

“The secretary was extremely attentive to these students,” Garrett said. “We had young men breaking down telling their stories.”

But advocates for survivors of sexual assault have been alarmed by what they view as DeVos’s outsize interest in hearing from wrongfully accused students, given that only a small fraction of rape reports are found to be false.

Dozens of survivors and their allies gathered outside the Education Department on Thursday to urge DeVos not to roll back federal protections for victims of sexual violence, and to decry what they view as the Trump administration’s lack of commitment to enforcing federal civil rights law.

On the concrete plaza outside the agency’s D.C. headquarters, activists read the stories of survivors from across the country while DeVos held her meetings inside.

“Survivors want to make it very clear that we deserve to be listened to,” said Mahroh Jahangiri of the advocacy group Know Your IX, one of the event’s organizers.

Education Department officials are weighing whether to keep or reject Obama-era guidance that outlined how schools must meet their obligations under Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination at federally funded institutions. Critics of that guidance, issued in 2011, said it was an executive overreach that set too low a bar for campus administrators to find a student guilty of sexual assault.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2017/07/13/advocates-press-devos-to-keep-protections-in-place-for-victims-of-sexual-assault/?tid=pm_local_pop
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