College campus assault guidance gets scrapped by Education Secretary

Sept. 22, 2017
Betsy Devos issues interim instructions allowing universities to decide which standard of evidence to use when handling complaints.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos has scrapped Obama-era guidance on investigating sexual assault on college campuses and has replaced it with new interim instructions allowing universities to decide which standard of evidence to use when handling complaints.

The Associated Press reports that the temporary guidance allows colleges the freedom to decide which standards of evidence they want to use when investigating complaints of sexual assault.

Under the Obama administration’s instructions from 2011 and 2014, colleges were told to use “the preponderance of the evidence” standards. DeVos is letting colleges choose between that standard and “the clear and convincing evidence standard,” which is harder to meet.

DeVos has said the rules promulgated during the Obama administration were unfairly skewed against the students accused of assault.

“This interim guidance will help schools as they work to combat sexual misconduct and will treat all students fairly,” DeVos said in a statement.

The temporary guidance will be in place while the Education Department gathers comments and comes up with new rules.

“Schools must continue to confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on. There will be no more sweeping them under the rug. But the process also must be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes,” she said.

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