How colleges can help sexual assault survivors — and the accused

Too many colleges are mishandling sexual assault. Here’s what might actually help.

When Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) was taking her daughter on a tour of college campuses a few years ago, she remembers that the first question a parent asked wasn’t about academic requirements, or sports, or social life. It was, “Is my daughter going to be safe here?”

That parent was talking about campus sexual assault, a problem that has captured even more public attention than usual since Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education, lambasted the Obama administration’s handling of the issue in a speech at George Mason University in September.

Since then, the Education Department has rescinded Obama-era guidelines on sexual assault, and put in place an interim guidance that some say is unfair to survivors. In response, Speier on Thursday announced the introduction of the Title IX Protection Act, which would enshrine in law some of the Obama administration’s guidelines, such as the right of a survivor to appeal a school’s ruling and a recommendation that schools use an evidentiary standard that survivors and their advocates say is the most appropriate.

The bill is needed because “Title IX is being rolled back” under DeVos, Speier said. “Her actions are taking us back in time.”

Meanwhile, in her George Mason speech, DeVos described a “failed system” that “has clearly pushed schools to overreach.”

“This unraveling of justice is shameful, it is wholly un-American, and it is anathema to the system of self-governance to which our Founders pledged their lives over 240 years ago,” DeVos added.

The controversy around campus sexual assault can make the problem seem intractable: How can universities support assault survivors and still be fair to accused students? What standards should they use to evaluate evidence? Why are schools responsible for this in the first place?

These questions …read more

Source:: Vox – All

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