Although formal proposals are not due until next month, word has begun to filter out about the U.S. Department of Education’s plans to revisit and revamp the Obama administration’s Title IX guidelines on discipline for campus sexual misconduct. Emily Yoffe at The Atlantic, whose work in this area we’ve covered before, has more:
A year ago, Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos declared that the rules and procedures put in place by the Obama administration on this volatile subject had created a “failed system” that brought justice neither to accuser or accused. She promised to change that….
As I wrote in a three-part Atlantic series last September, the use of Title IX to protect female students, however well-intentioned, has resulted in the over-policing of sex between young adults. It has also sometimes resulted in adjudications that assume guilt, rely on junk science, gut fundamental fairness, engage in racial animus, and disregard the effects of ending men’s educations and crushing futures. The Times’s story was based on a leak, so we still need to see all the rules in their final form. Because these proposed rules will go through an administrative process known as “notice and comment” – meaning the public can weigh in — revisions are likely….
Among items on the reform agenda are the definition of harassment (moving toward the Supreme Court’s definition as opposed to the broader definition used now); the scope of the university’s duty to address wrongdoing (filed complaints only, or any appearance of misconduct whether or not there is a complainant?); whether colleges are obliged to punish misconduct occurring far away or during the summer, as opposed to on campus; sharing evidence with the accused; and allowing colleges to adopt higher standards of proof. Also under scrutiny are the training manuals and materials used for Title IX investigators; many colleges have yielded to pressure to adopt so-called trauma-informed response to accusations, which invokes dubious scientific assertions to stack the process toward overlooking flaws in accusers’ stories and assuming the worst of the accused.
Some of the proposals might make little difference or even encourage dubious “single-investigator” formats, but overall, Yoffe concludes, their thrust would be to “move the policy in a more just direction.”
More: and don’t miss the new analysis by KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor, Jr. in the Weekly Standard.