Last week Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ announced that the Department of Education is withdrawing guidance previously issued under the Obama administration, specifically the Dear Colleague Letter on Sexual Violence, issued by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education, dated April 4, 2011 and OCR’s Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence dated April 29, 2014.
To say that college students all across the country should be enthusiastically celebrating this announcement would be an understatement. Why?
As OCR’s recent announcement states “The 2011 Dear Colleague Letter required schools to adopt a minimal standard of proof—the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard—in administering student discipline, even though many schools had traditionally employed a higher clear-and-convincing-evidence standard. The Letter insisted that schools with an appeals process allow complainants to appeal not-guilty findings, even though many schools had previously followed procedures reserving appeal for accused students. The Letter discouraged cross-examination by the parties, suggesting that to recognize a right to such cross examination might violate Title IX. The Letter forbade schools from relying on investigations of criminal conduct by law-enforcement authorities to resolve Title IX complaints, forcing schools to establish policing and judicial systems while at the same time directing schools to resolve complaints on an expedited basis.”
In other words, OCR’s Obama era guidance directed schools to conduct campus witch hunts to find rapists that were apparently lurking everywhere, on every campus hence the ludicrous (and well debunked) statement offered up by Obama that “1 in 4” college women will be assaulted by the time they graduate college. Accused students (almost exclusively male) faced a nightmare world where the most basic due process elements were removed in order to expedite their expulsion from campus. No wonder critics describe university sexual misconduct investigations as Kafkaesque and resulting disciplinary hearings as nothing more than kangaroo courts designated to expel men from campus.
We intentionally point out that it is men that are being denied due process and removed from campuses because the overwhelming majority of the accused (and expelled) students are men. Examine the court documents of the over 180 lawsuits filed against universities by male students alleging violations of due process and gender bias to grasp the full effect of the Obama administration’s war on college men.
Secretary DeVos sent a clear and concise message that the Department of Education is committed to ensuring that fairness, impartiality and fundamental due process protections are to be provided equally to students whenever a Title IX related allegation is investigated by a university. The university thumb pressed upon the scales of justice shall no longer be an acceptable process in adjudicating Title IX cases.
Make no mistake, those that believe that men are inherently evil, that women never lie and that any accusation of sexual misconduct must be believed without question, will denounce the withdrawal of the discriminatory 2011 Dear Colleague letter mandate. The campus rape hysteria activists will hold marches and call for telephone, email and twitter campaigns aimed at intimidating anyone that dares to question how providing due process rights to accused students harms efforts to remove rapists from college campuses. Dare to question the "men rape" narrative and you are branded a rape apologist which is a small price to pay when advocating on behalf of male students falsely accused of sexual assault.
Allegations of sexual assault are serious matters that need to be investigated in a professional, fair and impartial manner. Evidence needs to be collected, preserved and analyzed carefully. We agree with OCR that “an equitable investigation of a Title IX complaint requires a trained investigator to analyze and document the available evidence to support reliable decisions, objectively evaluate the credibility of parties and witnesses, synthesize all available evidence—including both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence—and take into account the unique and complex circumstances of each case.”
Schools are still required by federal civil rights law to take sexual violence seriously, and now they must do so by providing processes that are free from gender bias and which provide fairness and due process to everyone. The days of using Title IX as a political weapon to expel innocent male students are over. This new direction by the Department of Education is unquestioningly worthy of a celebration.