Betsy DeVos Says The Title IX System Has ‘Failed’ Both Survivors And The Accused

During a planned press conference on Thursday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that “the era of rule by letter is over” with regards to campus sexual assault. 

DeVos delivered a speech on Title IX to a crowd at George Mason University’s Law School campus in Arlington, VA on Thursday early afternoon. During her 20-minute speech, DeVos called the current campus reporting process a “failed system” that is “increasingly elaborate and confusing.” 

She did not announce any large policy changes to Title IX other than inferring that the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter would be rescinded when she told the crowd “the era of rule by letter” has ended.

The Obama-era Dear Colleague Letter, which was created by then-Vice President Joe Biden in 2011, is a comprehensive set of guidelines that essentially serve as a reminder to universities and Title IX administrators that schools need to follow the Title IX law.  

DeVos also announced two new approaches to the campus sexual violence reporting process that the Department of Education is exploring. The first is that the Department “will launch a transparent notice and comment process to incorporate the insights of all parties,” including feedback from the public and educational institutions. 

“No one benefits from a system that does not have the public’s trust,” DeVos said, referring to the current Title IX system. 

No one benefits from a system that does not have the public’s trust. Secretary Betsy DeVos on the current Title IX process

The second approach DeVos announced on Thursday is that the department will implement a regional reporting center model. The model would allow universities and colleges to opt in to local reporting centers that would partner with state attorney generals and law enforcement to ensure the reporting process runs fairly.  

The Secretary of Education repeatedly discussed the rights of not only survivors of sexual assault, but also those who have been “wrongly accused” of sexual misconduct.

She allotted most of her speech to anecdotes about how the current Title IX system has failed survivors and those wrongly accused.

“One rape is one too many, one assault is one too many, one aggressive act of harassment is one too many, one person denied due process is one too many,” DeVos told the crowd at George Mason. “This conversation may be uncomfortable, but we must have it. It is our moral obligation to get it right.”

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