The US Department of Education has officially revoked the Obama administration’s guidance on college sexual assault.
Democratic Senator Patty Murray said the decision could send sexual assault survivors ‘back into the shadows.’
Education Betsy DeVos said President Barack Obama’s policy was unfairly pitched against those who had been accused of sexual assault. She believes it ‘weaponized’ the Education Department to ‘work against schools and against students.’
The Obama administration released the policy in 2011 and then updated it in 2014.
The guidance reminded universities receiving federal funds of their responsibility under Title IX to act on sexual assault reports.
It instructed universities to use a ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard when assessing and investigating sexual assault claims.
DeVos‘ interim guidelines let colleges choose between the Obama policy rules and a ‘clear and convincing evidence’, which is harder to meet.
‘The time of ineffective and inefficient mandates is over’
The Department of Education has set temporary guidelines in place while they write new guidance.
DeVos spoke at the Republican Leadership Conference on Friday (22 Sept) night in Michigan.
She said: ‘To be very clear, one sexual assault is one too many. It is horrible and lamentable. But the current failed system didn’t work for students, it didn’t work for institutions, it didn’t work for anyone,
‘It didn’t work because unelected and unaccountable political appointees pushed the guidance through without any period for comment from those who walk side by side with students every day.
‘The time of ineffective and inefficient mandates is over.’
The new rules put LGBTI students at risk.
A 2015 survey revealed LGBTI students are at high risk of being victims of sexual assault on campus.
The new rules will make it harder for students to come forward.
‘This decision was unnecessary and reckless’
Fatima Goss Graves is the president of CEO of the National Women’s Law Centre. She says the new rule will have a ‘devastating’ impact on students and school.
She went on to say: ‘It will discourage students from reporting assaults, create uncertainty for schools on how to follow the law, and make campuses less safe. This misguided directive is a huge step back to a time when sexual assault was a secret that was swept under the rug.’
The National Women’s Law Centre pointed out ‘not one person’ criticized Obama’s rules.
The Director of News and Rapid Response at GLAAD explained DeVos’ decision was ‘reckless.’
Drew Anderson said: ‘DeVos’ choice to throw away the standards issued by President Obama is just the latest in an ongoing attempt by the Trump Administration to roll back measures aimed to protect LGBTQ people who are put in harm’s way at higher rates than their straight peers.
‘This decision was unnecessary, reckless, and expands the target on the backs of LGBTQ people who see college as their chance to find a safe place to call home.’