If currently expressed sentiments in the Trump presidential administration regarding college campus sex-crimes policies and procedures take the shape of new standards and legal imperatives, says one Obama-era official, the United States will be taken back to the days “when colleges swept sexual assault under the rug.”
That is emphatically untrue, counters one advocate for individuals accused of campus-based sex crimes. He states that opinions expressed recently by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos are “being secretly cheered by every university general counsel in the country.”
DeVos’s comments made earlier this month manifestly signal a strong discontent in the current administration with the way that allegations of sexual misconduct are routinely being handled on campuses across the country.
As the New York Times noted recently, guidelines handed down to college principals in 2011 by the prior presidential administration “required a tougher response to campus sexual-assault accusations.”
One key result of that strong nudge, say critics, was an inserted bias in favor of alleged victims, coupled with the unfair prejudging of individuals accused of crimes. A government guidance letter supported a lower standard of proof in cases decided on campuses by college hearing bodies and courts, with a “preponderance of evidence” threshold promoted that is far lower than the proof standard in criminal law cases.
That sorely rankles with many individuals and groups across the country claiming that the balance of justice is now tipped decidedly against those accused of crime.
“The sad reality,” stated DeVos in her recently delivered speech,” is that Lady Justice is not blind on campuses today.”
Although DeVos’s comments did not address any specific proposals, her message that suspects’ rights need shoring up was crystal clear.
It is now expected that a public comment period will commence.
Likely, the debate will be lively and impassioned.