Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday that the Trump administration believes Obama-era guidance regarding sexual assault on college campuses denied due process against accused perpetrators and is planning to overturn those guidelines.
“One assault is one too many, one aggressive act of harassment is one too many, one person denied due process is one too many,” DeVos said speaking at George Mason University’s Arlington, Virginia campus.
DeVos thanked her predecessors for bringing the issue of campus sexual assault to light but said “good intentions alone are not enough.”
Title IX is a federal policy that prohibits discrimination based on sex for schools and programs that receive federal funding. This includes protection from sexual harassment.
In 2011, the Obama administration outlined guidelines for schools on how to handle sexual assault cases. The memo required schools to address sexual violence in order to provide equal access to education. Critics have said the guidance is unfair toward the accused.
“The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students. Survivors, victims of a lack of due process, and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved,” DeVos said.
It has been widely speculated that Title IX policies would see changes under the Trump administration.
“In order to ensure that America’s schools employ clear, equitable, just and fair procedures that inspire trust and confidence, we will launch a transparent notice-and-comment process to incorporate the insights of all parties in developing a better way,” DeVos said Thursday.
“We will seek public feedback and combine institutional knowledge, professional expertise and the experiences of students to replace the current approach with a workable, effective and fair system.”
In July, Candice Jackson, the head of the department’s civil right’s office, came under fire for saying investigation processes have not been “fairly balanced between the accusing victim and the accused student.”
“Rather, the accusations — 90% of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right,'” according to The New York Times.
The Times reported that Jackson walked back the comments, but days later, DeVos met with groups impacted by Title IX policies, including representatives from a men’s rights group, as well as sexual assault survivors and representatives from educational institutions.
In February, the Department of Education rolled back Obama-era guidelines that gave protections to transgender students in public schools who used and facilities that corresponded with their gender identity.