PFLAG responds to DeVos' planned change to campus sexual assault guidance

Posted September 10, 2017

Defenders of the Obama policy did not agree with DeVos' concerns about one person being denied due process as being "one too many".

"Policies that do not treat this epidemic with the utmost seriousness are an insult to the lives it has damaged and the survivors who have worked so hard to make positive change", Biden wrote.

"The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students".

"If those changes take place, and I know that we're waiting and seeing, it will be a crushing blow to the efforts that we have made nationwide in showing survivors, not just telling survivors, but showing survivors that we're serious when we say we believe you", said Marielle Downes, chief operating officer of the Center for Community Solutions, a San Diego nonprofit that supports sexual violence survivors.

When asked in an interview after the speech today what might sway her to engage with DeVos, García said, "I don't see it".

#StopBetsy was trending on Twitter, with activists accusing the administration of being more interested in protecting men than women.

DeVos also stressed her personal revulsion for sexual assault and her commitment to prosecute campus rape. The same phrase appeared in the text of the two principal Obama guidance documents only five times, combined, and then mostly to remind colleges not to allow an accused student's due-process rights to trump OCR's novel interpretations of Title IX. Sexual assault victims must know their rights.

Biden's comments come after Devos said she meant to rework Title IX guidelines established in 2011, a process she called a "failed system".

"'A blunt attack on survivors of sexual assault", hurled a leading women's advocate.

The U.S. Department of Education now has eight open Title IX sexual violence investigations involving five colleges and universities in Tennessee, including Vanderbilt and UT Knoxville. "We will not accept this blatant favoritism for the rights of rapists under the guise of fairness".

DeVos announced Thursday that the Department of Education would seek to revamp Obama-era guidelines issued to colleges and universities on how to handle sexual assault on campuses. "With regard to the unilateral and opaque way that current federal mandates in this area were imposed, she further assured listeners that 'the era of "rule by letter" is over'".

The announcement was applauded by critics who say the rules are unfairly stacked against students accused of sexual assault, while advocacy groups for victims denounced DeVos's message as a step backward. She has vowed to consider cases individually rather than looking for systemic violations of civil rights, which she said leads to longer processing times and backlogs.

The union leader has been persistent in saying that there's "no reason to trust" Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and that she won't meet with the secretary until DeVos answers questions on whether she'll protect all students from discrimination and hold privately managed charters to the same accountability standards as public schools. Many, like Sofie Karasek with End Rape on Campus, say they worry campuses will slide back to the, quote, "bad old days" when assaults were not taken seriously.

"As someone who spent half a century in higher education and as a retired university president and former dean, I understand first hand the very real issue of sexual violence on campuses". About 800,000 immigrants, including tens of thousands of school-age students, are protected under the program.