Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was vilified as everything under the sun when she repealed an Obama-era interpretation of Title IX that essentially quashed due process on college campuses. Yet, in her role with the Department of Education, she scrapped the college sexual misconduct rules in spite of the controversy.
A fat lot of good it seems to have done for some students. From The College Fix:
Among the new guidance’s most significant changes is allowing universities to choose a higher standard of evidence when adjudicating Title IX cases, though it does not mandate that higher standard be used.
Universities may continue using the preponderance of evidence standard or the clear and convincing evidence standard.
The “clear and convincing” standard to judge accused students roughly translates to 75 percent certainty. Officials can also continue using the “preponderance” standard, a 50.01-percent certainty standard that had been mandated under Obama. The preponderance standard is one of the lowest standards of evidence that can be used to adjudicate assault claims.
Some campus leaders say they will continue to use that low standard.
George Washington University’s President Thomas LeBlanc promised in a news release that the university will continue to use the preponderance standard, for example.
“GW has used this standard in all cases regarding potential student code of conduct violations, including Title IX cases, since before the 2011 guidance from the Obama administration. The university is continuing to use this standard,” he stated.
GWU isn’t the only school opting to maintain that standard — and that’s problematic, to say the least.
The problem is that the “preponderance of evidence” standard should have meant there was a likely chance the man in question was guilty. What actually happened was men found themselves facing “guilty until proven innocent” standards that sound more like an updated version of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” than anything resembling 21st-century jurisprudence.
By allowing colleges to set their own standards, including the lowest possible standards, the DeVos Department of Education has essentially allowed laziness to be used as a valid reason to ignore student due process. After all, they already have these rules in place, so why not just leave ’em?
Despite initial excitement regarding the ruling from the federal government, there’s no reason for anything to change — simply because no one has to change.
Yes, some are apparently changing, and that’s good. But others aren’t.
Maybe it’s time for DeVos to do more than hope and wish for the return of due process to college campuses. Tying federal funds to requirements for a higher standard of evidence, for example, might just do the trick.