Daily Egyptian

SIU will continue current Title IX policies while DeVos overhaul remains murky

By Cory Ray

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said Thursday she plans to rescind Title IX-related policies enacted during the Obama administration, saying the current laws force schools to operate at the lowest standard of proof in sexual assault cases.

But DeVos’ exact plans remain murky, and because she has yet to propose a definitive change, SIU Title IX Coordinator Kay Doan said her office will not change its procedures yet. They will continue to operate by current laws until and further laws are enacted, she said.

“At this time, we don’t really have anything to offer as there are no specifics to how she is going to do this,” Doan said. “My office will continue to do as we have until we get more specifics.”

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Doan said the Office of Equity and Compliance already operates under due process and will continue to do so.

“Not one more survivor will be silenced,” she said. “We will not abandon anyone. We will amplify the voices of survivors who often feel voiceless.”

DeVos said Obama’s policies failed to adequately protect those accused of sexual assault.

“Title IX has helped make clear that educational institutions have a responsibility to protect every student’s right to learn in a safe environment,” DeVos said at George Mason University last week.

The 45-year-old law states “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance,” and it extends to sexual assault cases that occur on campuses.

“The previous administration helped elevate this issue in American public life,” DeVos said. “They listened to survivors who have brought this issue out of the backrooms of student life offices into the light of day. I’m grateful to those who endeavored to end sexual misconduct, but good intentions alone are not enough.”

DeVos said many campuses have not properly addressed sexual assault cases, adding that Obama-era polices have failed to protect survivors and “victims of a lack of due process.” She suggested in a number of cases, a person is wrongly accused of sexually assaulting or harassing another.

She said students, administrators and other members of college campuses have also had to decipher and enact overly-complicated policies.

“Washington has burdened schools with increasingly elaborate and confusing guidelines that even lawyers find difficult to understand and navigate,” DeVos said. “Where does that leave institutions who are forced to be judge and jury?”

According to the latest Clery Act annual security report, 20 sexual offense cases and 28 dating or domestic violence incidents happened on campus in 2015. Sexual offenses have increased since 2013, in which seven cases were reported, and 2014, in which 16 cases were reported. Dating and domestic abuse has declined greatly since 2013, when 55 cases were reported.

DeVos said both victims and survivors may not be given full information during a school’s investigation, which she called “kangaroo courts,” a term for trying someone for a crime without substantial evidence.

“Instead of working with schools on behalf of students, the prior administration weaponized the Office of Civil Rights to work against schools and against students,” she said.

Staff writer Cory Ray can be reached at cray@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter @coryray_de.

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