The University of Colorado has announced its refusal to abide by reformed Title IX guidelines, recently issued by the Trump administration’s Department of Education. Instead, the university will stick to the scrapped Obama-era guidelines when overseeing campus tribunals on rape and sexual assault.
Per the Daily Camera on Sunday, college officials stated their belief in the university’s existing process, which they believe “provides fairness to all involved in campus sexual assault investigations.” Issued under the Obama administration, the Title IX legislation has been compared to a kangaroo court, and highly criticized for not providing due process to individuals accused of crimes.
As such, the university will not require the higher standard of evidence during these investigations, as called for by the revised guidelines created by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
Last Friday, DeVos rescinded regulations from 2011 and 2014 that required universities to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard when investigating such claims. Instead, the new interim guidelines calls on colleges to use a “clear and convincing evidence” standard.
“This interim guidance will help schools as they work to combat sexual misconduct and will treat all students fairly,” DeVos said. “Schools must continue to confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on. There will be no more sweeping them under the rug. But the process also must be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes.”
Valerie Simons, the Title IX coordinator at the University of Colorado says that they have no plans to make any changes to its policies. “One of the priorities has already been a prompt, equitable and fair process for those accused of sexual violence and the victims,” she said. “There will be no immediate changes to either our sexual misconduct policy or our OIEC policy.”
Another CU professor, Joanne Belknap, who designs courses on sexual harassment and gendered violence, told the Daily Camera that men who are accused of sexual misconduct are not treated unfairly in Title IX cases.
“I’m sure we can all find examples where certain people were treated unfairly,” Belknap said. “But this whole idea that somehow all these men on campus are at risk of being charged with something they didn’t do is such a gross exaggeration of what the reality is.”
Belknap criticized DeVos for “stigmatizing victims” of rape and sexual assault by issuing the new policy, which provided due processed to individuals accused of these actions.