Education Secretary Betsy DeVos gave a blistering speech at George Mason University on Thursday, dressing down the previous administration for using federal guidance regulations to run roughshod over public schools and universities throughout the country.
In another signal that DeVos’s Education Department is going to take a much different view of some integral Title IX issues, DeVos said that the Obama administration unfairly persecuted college men by slapping them with a presumption of guilt after the thinnest of rape accusations.
“The era of ‘rule by letter’ is over,” DeVos said in her speech. “Through intimidation and coercion, the failed system has clearly pushed schools to overreach.”
DeVos criticized the Obama administration for using “weaponized” federal guidance letters to “work against schools and against students” in a quest for more Washington power.
DeVos’s Education Department has already rolled back the Obama administration’s unwelcome “guidance” – read: threat – to public schools regarding how they should accommodate transgender students, but rolling back the current guidelines on campus sexual assault is an even more important matter. By bending over backwards to satisfy the extreme feminist left on this issue, the Obama Education Department put millions of college men in significant peril while eroding the very fabric of our national judicial process.
In 2011, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights issued guidance to schools telling them that they must adjudicate sexual assault cases using a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. In other words, the same burden of proof required in civil court: 51%. If an educator simply believes that the assault more likely occurred than did not – even by a single hair’s breadth – they must conclude that the accused is guilty. This standard has ruined lives, caused innocent men to become pariahs in their communities, and given feminists an iron fist on college campuses from coast to coast. Perhaps most troubling, it had the effect of spreading the scarce resources of sexual assault programs and law enforcement officials, making it more likely that ACTUAL rape and sexual violence go undetected.
“If everything is harassment, then nothing is,” DeVos warned in her speech.
Amen to that.
It is, of course, essential that young girls are able to count on a safe and assault-free education as they make their way through the nation’s colleges and universities. But expanding the definition of sexual assault, giving unquestioned credence to every loony false accusation, and threatening schools with loss of funding if they don’t err on the side of a guilty verdict…that’s not the way to go. We have to treat the accused in these cases as we treat them in all criminal cases, and that is to place the burden of proof on the prosecution.
To do otherwise is to give our legal system and our schools over to mob rule.