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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos plans to edit sexual assault policy


Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced last week that the Department of Education will be revising Obama-era campus sexual assault policies, saying that they were unfairly targeting those accused.

The Department of Education released a “Dear Colleague Letter” on Sept. 22 that criticized the policies currently in place and expressed a dire need for reform.

The letter withdrew previous statements from the Department of Education, including a “Dear Colleague Letter” from 2011 and a 2014 Title IX Question and Answer page. The 2011 “Dear Colleague Letter” required students to have a minimal level of proof in accusing students of sexual assault, and the 2014 Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence page provided guidance to educational institutions about their Title IX responsibilities when it comes to sexual assault.

“The 2011 and 2014 guidance documents may have been well-intentioned, but those documents have led to the deprivation of rights for many students—both accused students denied fair process and victims denied an adequate resolution of their complaints,” the letter reads.

According to an article in The New York Times, “Ms. DeVos plans to enact new rules after a public comment period that department officials said could take at least several months, and in the meantime, colleges may choose to maintain the lower standard of proof.”

The letter gives new hope to those wrongfully accused of sexual assault, as clear evidence is now needed in order for serious consequences, such as expulsion, to be faced.

However, the new action has sparked controversy on college campuses across the nation, with some students worried about how this will affect victims.

“Loyola University Maryland remains committed to an academic and work environment that is free from sex discrimination (including discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression) and sexual misconduct (including sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, and stalking),” Katsura Kurita, Title IX Deputy for Students at Loyola said. “As members of the University community and in keeping with our Jesuit values and mission, we uphold and respect the rights, dignity, and personhood of others.”

According to Kurita, Loyola’s response policy to sex discrimination and sexual misconduct, which are outlined in the University Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures and the Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct section of the “2017-2018 Community Standards” policy, will remain unchanged.


As a whole, that section of the “Community Standards” lists the “grievance procedures which provides a prompt and equitable resolution of complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual misconduct.  These policies and procedures may be found on the Title IX Policy website,” Kurita said.

Kurita also wants students to know that her office will remain dedicated to investigating allegations of sexual misconduct.

“We take all allegations of sex discrimination and sexual misconduct very seriously.  The safety and security of our campus is a community responsibility. We welcome your active involvement in fostering a campus environment free from gender discrimination and sexual misconduct in all their forms,” she said.

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos plans to edit sexual assault policy