DeVos Overhaul Could Make Campus Sex Misconduct Harder To Prove. Will That Protect The Accused Or Silence Accusers?

-A stricter definition for harassment The Obama administration defined harassment as "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature."

DeVos' proposal would change the definition of sexual harassment to mean unwelcome conduct "sufficiently severe and pervasive" that it interferes with a person's ability to access educational programs.

Wake, of Northwestern, said that drastically limits the scope of behavior that would violate such a policy. "It's going to be a lot harder to prove that sexual harassment occurred under these regulations," Wake said.

-Conflicts between state and federal law Illinois' Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act, enacted in 2015, incorporates Obama-era standards that are now being revised under DeVos.

State law, for instance, forbids cross-examination between an accuser and an accused student and requires schools to use the preponderance of evidence standard of proof.

Local experts spotted those discrepancies and said it would be up to state legislators to address them.

"It would put us in a very difficult position and we would have to figure out how to walk the tightrope between complying with the state law and complying with federal regulations that have some serious consequences behind them," said Wake of Northwestern.

-What's next? Local officials said it could take the Department of Education months to review the feedback, much of which came from students, and they hope the department will revise, clarify or even scrap some provisions.

"I hope the Department of Education will see that students really are passionate about the issue of gender-based violence," said Payton Neufelder, a Loyola University senior who leads a group called Challenging Antiquated Norms for Gender Equality.

"We also are the ones who have gone through these processes ourselves and have lived these experiences."

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