The US Department of Education is rescinding Obama-era guidance on how colleges should approach sexual assault on campus. The decision comes after education secretary Betsy DeVos said earlier this month that her team was reviewing the policy.
The difference between the Trump and Obama administrations on the issue centers on the rights of the accused. The department now says the previous policy, which had a lower standard of proof, truncated due process and resulted in unfair treatment of accused perpetrators.
The DOE issued a “Dear Colleague” letter announcing the changes today (Sept. 22), as well as an updated Q and A on the topic. The letter says the department is working to develop a different approach to sexual assault, and sharply criticizes the Obama-era policies:
The 2011 and 2014 guidance documents may have been well-intentioned, but those documents have led to the deprivation of rights for many students—both accused students denied fair process and victims denied an adequate resolution of their complaints. The guidance has not succeeded in providing clarity for educational institutions or in leading institutions to guarantee educational opportunities on the equal basis that Title IX requires. Instead, schools face a confusing and counterproductive set of regulatory mandates, and the objective of regulatory compliance has displaced Title IX’s goal of educational equity.
Here is the full letter: