How To Handle Sex Assault On Campus?

By Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Education Secretary Betsy DeVos did not announce specific changes to current policy but said the Education Department will go through a formal process seeking public input in replacing the current system. According to DeVos, the Obama-era directive led to cases of accused students harmed by unjust findings without due process.

The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind.

As a victim advocate at Indiana State University, Amanda Hobson listened with great interest Thursday as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos discussed plans to replace an Obama-era directive on campus sexual assault investigations involving students.

In a speech at George Mason University, DeVos cited concerns that current policy denies due process to those who are accused of sexual misconduct.

“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,” she said in her speech.

But Hobson disagrees that the current system has failed.

She believes it’s led to much progress in how campuses respond to sexual assault allegations. Because of that Obama-era guidance, including the so-called 2011 “dear colleague” letter, “I feel like … institutions have taken very seriously their need to protect all of their students, to make sure all of their students have fair and impartial processes.”

Hobson is not only a victim advocate at ISU, she also is assistant dean of students and director of the Women’s Resource Center. She previously was a Title IX investigator at Ohio University in Athens.

Return to pre-2011?
The 2011 directive reminded schools of their legal obligation to address sexual violence, and it also provided guidelines for investigations and hearings. The Obama administration took a tough stand and also threatened to withhold federal funding to schools that did not comply.

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