Education Secy Betsy DeVos Announces Plans To Revise Title 9 Sexual Assault On Campus Rules

Over 250 Dickinson College students gathered to protest against sexual assault on campus Christine Baker/The Patriot-News /Landov

Over 250 Dickinson College students gathered to protest against sexual assault on campus Christine Baker/The Patriot-News /Landov

US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced changes Thursday to an Obama-era directive regarding sexual-assault allegations on campus. Speaking at George Mason University in Virginia, DeVos said “The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students." She pledged to replace the “failed system” with a “workable, effective, and fair system” that addresses the needs and rights for both sexual-assault victims and the accused.

“Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined,” she said.

Leaving the current rules in place for now, DeVos said that a public comment period would open soon, in order to craft new rules. 

“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,” DeVos said.

The Atlantic this week published a piece arguing that “rules intended to protect victims of sexual assault mean students have lost their right to due process -- and an accusation of wrongdoing can derail a person's entire college experience.”

The entire topic of campus rape became front and center in a now famous, retracted article in Rolling Stone  'A Rape on Campus', written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely. Numerous prominent media said that Rubin Erdely had failed to employ the most fundamental investigative techniques in her story alleging the rape of a University of Virginia student by several fraternity members. The University of Pennsylvania graduate has a long history of writing about sexual assault, including in the Catholic Church. 

Rolling Stone settled a defamation lawsuit brought by the Virginia Alpha Chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity for $1.65 million, wrote the New York Times in June 2017. In June 2014, writer Nina Burleigh addressed the subject of sexual assault on campus in another Rolling Stone article 'Confronting Campus Rape'.