The Trump administration on Friday rescinded Title IX guidance on campus sexual assault, following through on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s announcement that she would roll back the policy earlier this month.
The crucial change has to do with the standard of evidence used in the investigation of rape cases. The Obama administration’s guidance had directed college administrators to look for a “preponderance of evidence,” meaning that school officials had to decide if they’re more than 50 percent certain of someone’s guilt — a standard that’s far lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of criminal courts but still well-established in civil cases. Under DeVos’s new guidance, however, schools will be allowed to decide between using the Obama-era standard and the harder-to-meet “clear and convincing evidence” standard.
Men’s-rights activists argued that Title IX’s lower standards deprived the accused of “due process.” DeVos echoed that sentiment this month, saying in a speech at George Mason University that she felt Title IX was unfair toward students accused of sexual misconduct.
In a Friday statement, DeVos said, “This interim guidance will help schools as they work to combat sexual misconduct and will treat all students fairly. 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.”
The education department will keep the temporary guidance in place as it gathers comments for a more permanent rule in the coming months, the statement said.