Education

Critics Of Campus Sexual Assault Handlings Prepare For DeVos Meeting

Students, lawyers and sexual assault victims are meeting with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Thursday to discuss their concerns about Title IX and campus sexual assault proceedings.

The Daily Caller News Foundation sat down with a falsely accused student and a women’s organization leader to talk about their intentions for the DeVos meeting and what needs to change in campus sexual assault proceedings.

“Rape is a heinous crime and we certainly want to see anyone who has committed rape or sexual assault punished. But the problem with the mandates from the Obama administration promulgated under Title IX is that they don’t allow due process to the accused,” Charlotte Hays, senior editor at the Independent Women’s Forum, told TheDCNF.

The Obama administration’s Title IX mandate, or “Dear Colleague Letter,” told 7,000 colleges that they only needed to use a “preponderance of evidence” when dealing with sexual assault cases, allowed rape victims to appeal a “not guilty verdict” and discouraged accusers from being questioned by the accused.

Jonathon Andrews was expelled from his Hanover College campus after a fellow frat bother, who allegedly assaulted him, accused Andrews of sexual assault. He hopes DeVos will take a second look at the “Dear Colleage” letter and work to promote more due process in sexual assault proceedings.

“I think there needs to be a much more intensive training that Title IX coordinators go through,” he told TheDCNF, pointing out the extensive training that law enforcement officers and Special Victims Units receive. “Another thing, at least in my case, are the hearing board members. Some of them are just completely unqualified people. One of my hearing board members was an athletic trainer at the school. He had no experience in this sort of thing.”

Andrews suggests that colleges rely on people with more experience on the situations to be present at the hearings.

Hanover College said they take allegations of sexual assault seriously and that the case involving Andrews is still under review.

“Any complaint is investigated promptly and objectively and is then open to further review through our appeals process if a student does not feel their case was handled fairly. The College also cooperates fully with the Office of Civil Rights and provides all information necessary to any investigation,” a spokesperson for the college told TheDCNF.

Hays is also concerned with the lack of due process in these hearings. Rape needs to be prosecuted, Hays emphasized, but the Title IX mandate doesn’t allow the accused to keep their due process rights.

“People who are accused of crimes should have their due process. They should be able to defend themselves. That is a cornerstone of Western jurisprudence, that you can mount a defense of yourself,” Hays told TheDCNF. “The guidelines put out by the Obama administration really make it difficult, if not impossible, for the accused to defend himself. He can’t confront the person who has made the accusations. He’s very limited in what he can do to defend himself.”

Advocacy groups for sexual assault survivors are also slated to sit down with DeVos, but these groups have a different set of concerns. They are particularly worried that without Title IX in place, sexual assault victims won’t have legal protections.

“The administration has signaled that it is seriously considering further dismantling protections for survivors of sexual violence by weakening the oversight and enforcement mechanisms of the federal government ― enforcement that many vulnerable students and survivors need,” more than 100 survivors wrote in a Wednesday letter to DeVos. “We come forward with a simple request: Don’t.”

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