The Biden administration is eager to dismantle the legacy of Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, starting with a controversial directive that increased power to those accused of sexual assault on college campuses.
The Washington Post reports that President Biden will sign an executive order Monday directing his Department of Education to “review” how sexual assault allegations are handled at colleges and universities under the guidelines put in place during DeVos’s tenure.
The order also directs the agency to review other regulations, orders, guidances or policies to see whether they are consistent with the administration’s policy to “guarantee education free from sexual violence,” officials said.
As a candidate, Biden said he would revive Obama-era guidance to schools on how to investigate sexual harassment and assault under the federal civil rights law known as Title IX. That guidance did not carry the force of law, and DeVos rescinded it in 2017.
Some of Biden’s allies expect his administration will seek to replace DeVos’s formal regulation with one of its own.
In May 2020, DeVos implemented sweeping Title IX reforms that require universities to hold live hearings during which both the accused and the accuser can be cross-examined and challenged. While this can be championed as a due process victory, the move has alarmed those who worry that this new system might prevent survivors of sexual violence from coming forward.
Additionally, DeVos’s rules mandated that universities adopt the Supreme Court’s restrictive definition of sexual harassment—“unwelcome conduct that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive”—and relieves schools of some legal liabilities, many of which have been softened since DeVos initially hatched her Title IX revamp.
While the final rollout of DeVos’s Title IX revamp wasn’t quite as disastrous as she initially dreamt up, the Biden administration is still concerned about its effects. Hard to blame them, especially knowing that men’s rights activists, mothers of sons accused of sexual assault, and other groups dedicated to despising women were instrumental in constructing this new policy.
As Jezebel noted in August 2020:
According to the Nation, it was Candice Jackson, the then-deputy assistant secretary at the DOE’s Office of Civil Rights, who pushed for these groups to be heavily involved. Jackson is a rape survivor who has called the many women accusing Donald Trump of sexual assault as “fake victims” and who has said in the past that ninety percent of sexual assault accusations “fall into the category of, ‘We were both drunk, we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right,’” to give you an idea of her stance on sexual assault and rape.
Yeah, it looks like a “review” is certainly in order.