During Betsy DeVos’s Thursday speech on school choice at Harvard University, the education secretary was confronted by (mostly) silent protesters with signs opposing for-profit schools, white supremacy, and her recent rollback of Obama-era campus sexual assault guidance.
As Reuters reports, DeVos ignored the more than a dozen protesters in the crowd who held signs that read “White Supremacist,” “our students are not 4 sale,” “protect survivors,” and more. Other protesters sat or stood with their fists raised. Instead, the education secretary merely carried on with her speech, though she did stop to take questions from audience members, including at least one about her retraction of the Title IX guidelines.
The Obama administration’s Title IX guidance called for college officials to look for a “preponderance of evidence” in sexual assault investigations, which meant they had to be more than 50 percent certain of someone’s guilt. Under DeVos’s new guidance, however, schools can now decide between using the Obama-era standard and the “clear and convincing evidence” standard, which is harder to meet.
“One sexual assault is one too many, but by the same token, one that is denied due process is one too many,” DeVos said, according to Reuters. “So we need to be sure that policy is fair to all students.”
The protesters in attendance were largely silent during DeVos’s speech, though Reuters reports that the faint “cheers and jeers” of activists outside the venue could be heard throughout her talk. But when DeVos neared the exit after finishing her speech, protesters in the crowd began to chant, “This is what white supremacy looks like!”