WASHINGTON, DC – Last week Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the department would review former President Obama’s guidance on campus sexual assault. DeVos explained that she had concerns over the current policy because it allegedly denies due process to individuals accused of sexual assault.

Back in 2011, Obama enacted new guidance that pushed the school district, college and university leaders actively combat sexual harassment, including sexual violence. The policy required such institutions to do so under Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination.

DeVos stated, “One rape is one too many, one assault is one too many, one aggressive act of harassment is one too many, one person denied due process is one too many… [G]ood intentions alone are not enough.”
DeVos later announced that the department has already started the process to roll back Title IX guidance. In explaining her new stance, she stated, “[t]he truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students. 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.” However, the Education Secretary did not explain what would be the new guidance.

Her announcement brought strong objections from many women’s groups, victim advocates, and the nation’s leading Democrats.

One critic of DeVos, former Vice President Joe Biden, who had supported the Obama administration’s efforts to end sexual assault on campus stated in response, “Today’s announcement that the Department of Education plans to rewrite key Title IX guidance which works to address and prevent sexual assault in our schools is a step in the wrong direction… The truth is, although people don’t want to talk about the brutal reality of sexual assault, especially when it occurs in our most cherished institutions, it is our reality, and it must be faced head-on. And any change that weakens Title IX protections will be devastating.”

Also speaking up was New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who criticized the announcement in a Tweet stating, “This betrays students. @BetsyDeVosED should be doing everything she can to make Title IX enforcement stronger.”

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex for schools and other federally funded programs, including sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Under Title IX, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Some believe that DeVos’ focus on due process shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the subtleties involved in campus rape and sexual assault cases. However, to some, her plans are not a big surprise as she has met several times with the National Coalition for Men.  The National Coalition for Men is a “men’s rights” group that believes that the recent attention on campus sexual violence hurts young men and violates their civil rights.

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Sexual assault and sexual harassment do not only occur on campus, but it can also happen anywhere, including the workplace. If you feel like you need help or a way out contact the experienced New York City sexual harassment attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC. Our attorneys have years of experience litigating claims of gender discrimination. Working together with our Philadelphia sexual harassment attorneys, we have recovered millions on behalf of our clients who were discriminated against because of their gender. If you feel you have been discriminated against because of your gender, please give our attorneys a call at (800) 807-2209 for a free consultation.