Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has done what many campus safety advocates have been fearing for months: She has decided to roll back Obama-led guidance for universities to more aggressively investigate and adjudicate instances of sexual assault on campuses.
Under the Obama rules, colleges were asked to lower the standard of evidence from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to a “preponderance of evidence,” as a way to help protect and empower victims of sexual assault. Critics have said that this took away due process and would increase cases where false allegations are made. Numerous studies, however, show that false rape allegations are very rare. All the while, young women face a higher risk of sexual assault while on college campuses.
Despite this, DeVos has decided to rescind the rules that helped young victims. “This interim guidance will help schools as they work to combat sexual misconduct and will treat all students fairly,” said DeVos in a statement. She has implemented new interim rules, which are much less strict than the Obama ones.
In a statement posted on its website, Sofie Karasek, director of education and cofounder of End Rape on Campus, said, “rolling back this guidance is an affront to the students, survivors, and allies who have fought to bring the sexual assault epidemic out of the shadows.”