Women’s Groups Push Education Department To Uphold Campus Due Process Protections

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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Two women’s advocacy groups urged the Department of Education Tuesday to maintain collegiate due process protections after President Joe Biden called for an examination of these protections Monday.

The Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) and Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) responded to Biden’s Monday executive order calling on the Education Department to evaluate and potentially rescind a Title IX regulation issued under President Donald Trump’s administration that encouraged due process for those accused of campus sexual misconduct.

“Current Title IX regulations serve the interest of justice by making sure that all parties are treated fairly,” IWF President Carrie Lukas said in a statement. “They should be left intact.” (RELATED: Biden Orders Examination Of Trump Era Due Process Protections For Those Accused Of Sexual Misconduct)

President Joe Biden speaks following the passage of the American Rescue Plan on Saturday. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden speaks following the passage of the American Rescue Plan on Saturday. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

“Instead of rolling back due process, the government should focus instead on investigating whether colleges that receive federal money continue to employ Inquisition-like disciplinary systems that deny the accused any meaningful opportunity to tell his or her side of the story,”  IWLC director Jennifer C. Braceras added.

Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had proposed the due process protections shortly after the chaotic September 2018 confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, during which multiple women accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting them. Advocacy groups and many Democratic lawmakers focused on the phrases “believe all women” and “believe survivors” as Republicans condemned presumptions of Kavanaugh’s guilt.

The rules, which provide “basic due process protections for students” accused of campus sexual harassment or assault and stress the “presumption of innocence,” went into effect in May 2020.

Former President Barack Obama’s administration had broadly defined sexual harassment as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” according to CNN. DeVos’s proposal narrowed the definition to mean “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s education program or activity.”

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