Secretary DeVos demanded Universities not deny students due process. Some administrators have refused.
DeVos recently rescinded the Department of Education’s widely-maligned 2011 Title IX guidance, issuing an interim directive on how colleges and universities across the United States should adjudicate cases of sexual assault and harassment on campus.
According to a Wall Street Journal report today, at least a dozen universities and colleges have responded in defiance of her orders, to stick to the guidance issued under the Obama administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter. The Title IX regime has been highly criticized for denying due process to individuals accused of crimes.
“Regardless of this new DOE action and interim guidance . . . we will not waver in our commitment to Title IX and its protections,” said California State University, Northridge President Dianne Harrison in a statement, according to the WSJ report. Harrison justified the decision by saying that the Obama-era policies adhere to state law and executive orders.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Kathleen Salvaty, who rules Title IX adjudication for all nine University of California campuses claims that the Obama-era ruling will remain in effect and that the university’s existing policies already requires “equal rights for complainants and respondents.”
Contrary to her claims, as the publication highlights, a federal judge in California acknowledged concerns that the university may have acted with gender bias and denied due process to an accused male student, and allowed a case against the university to proceed.
At Occidental College, Title IX coordinator Danica Myers described DeVos’ interim guidance as “just that—guidance,” and that it wasn’t important to follow it. “It’s not the law.”
There is no legal difference between the “Dear Colleague” letter issued under Obama and Betsy DeVos’ guidance. With her orders, universities are expected to avoid gender bias and weigh evidence without making unfair judgments based on preconceptions about the victims or the accused.
Publicly-funded universities just don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing what Department of Education guidance to follow. Schools in violation of DeVos’ “guidance” could invite scrutiny from the Office of Civil Rights.
With the Title IX reforms, DeVos made it very clear during her speech at Harvard University last month that despite all claims to the contrary, the Department of Education will not be turning a blind eye towards victims of sexual assault. Likewise, those accused deserve the same rights.
“One sexual assault is one way too many,” said DeVos. “By the same token, one student that is denied due process is one too many. We need to ensure that framework is fair to all students.”
DeVos’ interim guidelines allow colleges to continue using the Obama-era “preponderance of evidence” standard, for the transition period. DeVos’ demand for a more “clear and convincing evidence” standard will be made law in due course, at which point these protesting colleges will be dealt with in accordance to the law.
Feature Image via NPR