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Activists sue Education Department on Obama Title IX guidelines
Three groups advocating against campus sexual assaults sued the Department of Education last week to attempt to block Secretary Betsy DeVos' rescinding of Title IX.
By Rick Docksai
Contributor
Feb 22, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' official rollback of Obama administration directives on sexual assaults on college campuses is getting pushback from three groups that advocate for sexual-assault survivors. SurvJustice, Equal Rights Advocates, and the Victims Rights Law Center filed a federal lawsuit January 25 seeking to block Devos' sexual-assault policy rewrite, which they claim is having a "chilling effect" on sexual assault reporting as female students who would come forward with accusations now think that the process is stacked against them.

"Sexual violence and assault victims have expressed an unwillingness to report harassment and assault to campus authorities," the complaint states.

In September, DeVos' rescinded Title IX, which required campuses to more aggressively process sexual-assault allegations, adjudicate cases, and determine an accused student's guilt based on a "preponderance of the evidence"--considered the lowest legal standard of proof. DeVos substituted new policies that call for higher standards of proof and allow universities to block an accuser--but not the accused--from appealing the campus' decision. DeVos said that the changes were necessary to ensure that falsely accused students would get due process and not be punished for crimes they did not commit.

The issue of due process has been a concern on some campuses, where male students have incurred suspensions or expulsions for sexual assault based on scant investigations and questionable evidence.In 2014, for example, the University of Findlay expelled two black male students 24 hours after a white female student accused them of rape. The campus administrators did not interview the student or any witnesses, even though several other female students who were present during the alleged incident attested that the accuser had sex with both men consensually. Both accused men lost basketball scholarships, and the NCAA still bars them from playing again even though neither has actually been convicted.