Betsy DeVos Fights Back

 

It’s about time. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of the Department of Education, is pushing back on the shameful 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter that was sent to college campuses to intimidate them into misusing Title IX.

The principal objective of Title IX was to avoid the use of federal money to support sex discrimination in education programs and to provide individual citizens effective protection against those practices. In the case of sexual abuse on college campuses, particularly accusations of rape, the regulation has been poorly applied to possible victims and the accused alike. Secretary DeVos’s actions have been both praised and condemned.

The exploitation of this regulation was especially egregious during the Obama administration. The infamous “Dear Colleague” letter was designed to intimidate the colleges into compromising the adjudication of sexual assault cases:

Although federal guidance doesn’t carry the weight of law, the 2011 Dear Colleague letter was treated as legally binding, and schools were threatened with a loss of funding if they did not adhere to the administration’s demands. Former assistant secretary for civil rights at the Education Department Catharine Lhamon said as much at a summit in 2014, insisting the guidance wasn’t “an empty threat” and that she had already threatened schools with a loss of funding for non-compliance.

The letter also forced schools to adopt the lower standard of “preponderance of evidence”; this standard only required administrators to be 51 percent sure that a sexual assault had taken place. It replaced the “clear and convincing standard” which requires a party to prove that it is substantially more likely than not that it is true.

To further intimidate the universities, the Obama administration released a list of schools that were “under investigation” for their handling of sexual assault complaints. So much for innocent until proven guilty.

The Obama administrations actions raise a number of cultural issues that shouldn’t be lost in this discussion. For a long time, there were those who felt that women who reported being raped must have enticed the attackers by their dress and behavior. Of course, the women were blamed for these attacks. Some people also believed that women would not contrive these stories because they couldn’t be seeking this kind of public attention. We now know that drawing these conclusions are questionable, if not disproven. First, no matter how provocatively a woman dresses, sexual attacks are simply not acceptable. We also are learning that there are many reasons why women falsely accuse men of raping them (drunkenness, regret about their own behavior, and revenge, to name a few).

Regarding the behavior of the purported attackers, assumptions have historically also been made. Those include, but are not limited to, the male sexual drive, a sense of entitlement, and drunkenness as well. Since we have no way of knowing the psychological state of any young man or his possible motives, and drunkenness may have been a factor for both parties, assumptions only muddy the waters.

The problem with the men and women involved is that suppositions have been elevated to probabilities, even to the likelihood of being factual. These are the reasons a whole new approach must be taken to investigate and adjudicate these situations. That assessment should also include determining whether the colleges should be handling these cases at all, or if they should be turned over to law enforcement.

Betsy DeVos, with the help of Candice E. Jackson, the top civil rights official at the Department of Education, is working to rectify the situation. They are meeting with assaulted students, the accused and their families, advocates of both sides and administration officials to determine how best to address the issue of sexual misconduct.

My hope is that a balanced and fair approach can be designed for these circumstances, and that men and women, the accusers and potential attackers can be dealt with in a respectable and reasonable manner.

What are your thoughts? How do you think these situations should be handled?

Published in Education
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There are 30 comments.

  1. Inactive

    Susan Quinn: The Obama administrations actions raise a number of cultural issues that shouldn’t be lost in this discussion. For a long time, there were those who felt that women who reported being raped must have enticed the attackers by their dress and behavior. Of course, the women were blamed for these attacks. Some people also believed that women would not contrive these stories because they couldn’t be seeking this kind of public attention. We now know that drawing these conclusions are questionable, if not disproven. First, no matter how provocatively a woman dresses, sexual attacks are simply not acceptable. We also are learning that there are many reasons why women falsely accuse men of raping them (drunkenness, regret about their own behavior, and revenge, to name a few).

    Great stuff. If nothing else from this failed episode, we should remember some of these important lessons. Honestly I don’t know how these things should be handled, but I certainly don’t trust universities to be policing themselves about such things. I’m sure we’re 2-3 iterations away from anything that both sides will agree on as being acceptable.

    • #1
    • September 10, 2017 at 9:06 pm
    • 3 likes
  2. Coolidge

    I guess I wonder why it is the purview of the Federal Government to take a proactive approach. I understand that the Feds have a role to play in law enforcement, so any specific case of rape might involve the FBI, say. But in general, why do we need a Department of Education at all?

    • #2
    • September 10, 2017 at 9:09 pm
    • 12 likes
  3. Member

    Any allegations of sexual assault should be turned over to law enforcement. Colleges should not be involved in this at all, except to turn the cases over to law enforcement.

    • #3
    • September 10, 2017 at 9:14 pm
    • 27 likes
  4. Contributor

    Susan Quinn: What are your thoughts? How do you think these situations should be handled?

    I’m glad you asked. As a parent of five children who have attended college, and one more who soon will, I have some opinions about the matter.

    I think we have allowed an internally self-contradictory situation to develop. On the one hand, we are told that men and women are essentially the same: have the same abilities, have the same drives and interests, face the same risks, and should engage in the same behaviors.

    That’s stupid. It’s logically and demonstrably wrong, and it’s destructive. What it produces is an environment in which men are free to pursue their sexual urges, and in which women feel ashamed not to respond in kind. In terms of discernment and self-respect, it’s a race to the bottom.

    The proper response is to restore an awareness of the differences between men and women, and of the different risks and rewards each experiences with sex. The proper response is to throw out a lot of the nonsense that came from the later stages of the feminist project, when the goal went from legally empowering women to denying and destroying the unique identify of women.

    That’s the right thing to do. However, the practical thing to do is to tell colleges to treat allegations of rape as exactly that: allegations of rape. They should be dealt with by the police, with consequences for the man — if he’s guilty — or for the woman who files a fraudulent complaint if that’s the case. Colleges are trying to simultaneously communicate that rape is serious (by imposing a low evidentiary bar) while implicitly admitting that they don’t really believe it (because they refuse to treat it as the violent crimes it is). That serves no one well.

    • #4
    • September 10, 2017 at 9:19 pm
    • 21 likes
  5. Member

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):
    Any allegations of sexual assault should be turned over to law enforcement. Colleges should not be involved in this at all, except to turn the cases over to law enforcement.

    I understand why feminists will object to all allegations of rape simply being turned over to law enforcement, with no college involvement at all. If, for instance, a young woman is raped by another student and has to continue attending classes with him while the wheels of justice slowly turn, that would be awful, but life is also awful for rape victims who do not attend college, and who often have to live knowing that their rapists are not in jail, at least not yet. These college girls who want their professors to get involved in what should be an issue for the criminal justice system seem to think that they deserve rights and privileges which are not available to women who don’t go to college.

    They also have clearly stated that they believe their colleges should be magical safe spaces where nothing bad can ever happen to them. It must be gently explained to them that no one can promise them a totally safe space, and they should be encouraged to get firearms training and carry a gun to protect themselves, if they feel that is necessary.

    • #5
    • September 10, 2017 at 9:40 pm
    • 7 likes
  6. Member

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):
    Any allegations of sexual assault should be turned over to law enforcement. Colleges should not be involved in this at all, except to turn the cases over to law enforcement.

    This is absolutely correct. The police should handle these things. The reason people on the left won’t let them do it, is because they are engaged in what the left is always engaged in: Trying to get more power for the federal government. It is simple as they that. They have been engaged, since the Wilson administration, in the total aggrandizement of federal power. This is what they care about. Not the abuse, or lack of same, that may go on on college campuses.

    Congratulations, Susan, on a good piece!

    • #6
    • September 11, 2017 at 2:49 am
    • 6 likes
  7. Member

    Maybe we could learn that a remote non accountable Federal bureaucracy can not manage thousands of universities better than each one can manage itself. The Feds can’t help themselves, they should simply get out of the University business. To the extent one believes Federal support for basic research is valuable and that it is beneficial to create demand for highly skilled high end technical and scientific people, we can expand a few Federal research facilities loosely linked to the Universities if linked at all.

    • #7
    • September 11, 2017 at 4:45 am
    • 4 likes
  8. Member

    Don’t let children leave home until they are off their parent’s insurance, like 26 years old. I’m kind of kidding. The problems with young men and young women living and working in close quarters, like in the military and college, are similar. Common sense says more oversight by adults, but young people are supposed to be adults. Young people who do not go to college are subject to the legal system, and those who go to college should not be judged in a different way.

    • #8
    • September 11, 2017 at 5:26 am
    • 3 likes
  9. Coolidge

    The practical difference between preponderance of the evidence and clear and convincing evidence is more theoretical than real, but it’s still good to correct it.

    It seems to me that blackmailing universities who get our money will continue until we stop giving them money. I doubt we will end the massive government graft involved with educational grants, but the idealist in me would like to dream that if a school can profit from these grants and when choosing between violating someone’s rights and accepting government grants, that a jury in a tort case would determine that the wrong committed against the victim should only be righted by losing the value of those grants in punitive awards. That is, if you wrongly and maliciously deprive a student of their education via these kangaroo courts, then the student should be awarded the billions of dollars you would have lost in grants.

    Yeah, I can dream, but until that happens the blackmail will continue.

    • #9
    • September 11, 2017 at 5:41 am
    • 4 likes
  10. Member

    The Obama rule was just one more attempt to lower personal responsibility and make Leviathan responsible for everything in our lives.

    Title 9 applies to a very limited matter.

    Rape is a legal issue and should be handled 100% by the police.

    • #10
    • September 11, 2017 at 6:21 am
    • 9 likes
  11. Inactive

    Feminists are on the attack, and their Leftist media allies have been pounding Secretary DeVos. Several media outlets have uncritically parroted feminist lies.

    http://dailycaller.com/2017/09/08/feminists-trot-out-ludicrous-1-in-4-rape-statistic-to-oppose-due-process-on-campus/

    • #11
    • September 11, 2017 at 6:22 am
    • 5 likes
  12. Inactive

    If anyone is interested in some particular examples, you could begin at F.I.R.E.

    https://www.thefire.org/?s=rape

    • #12
    • September 11, 2017 at 6:24 am
    • 5 likes
  13. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Ian Mullican (View Comment):
    I’m sure we’re 2-3 iterations away from anything that both sides will agree on as being acceptable.

    It will be interesting to see if Betsy DeVos just says turn it over to law enforcement. The federal government doesn’t need to be involved. Thanks, Ian.

    • #13
    • September 11, 2017 at 6:25 am
    • 3 likes
  14. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Spin (View Comment):
    I guess I wonder why it is the purview of the Federal Government to take a proactive approach. I understand that the Feds have a role to play in law enforcement, so any specific case of rape might involve the FBI, say. But in general, why do we need a Department of Education at all?

    Hear! Hear!

    • #14
    • September 11, 2017 at 6:25 am
    • 1 like
  15. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: What are your thoughts? How do you think these situations should be handled?

    I’m glad you asked. As a parent of five children who have attended college, and one more who soon will, I have some opinions about the matter.

    I think we have allowed an internally self-contradictory situation to develop. On the one hand, we are told that men and women are essentially the same: have the same abilities, have the same drives and interests, face the same risks, and should engage in the same behaviors.

    That’s stupid. It’s logically and demonstrably wrong, and it’s destructive. What it produces is an environment in which men are free to pursue their sexual urges, and in which women feel ashamed not to respond in kind. In terms of discernment and self-respect, it’s a race to the bottom.

    The proper response is to restore an awareness of the differences between men and women, and of the different risks and rewards each experiences with sex. The proper response is to throw out a lot of the nonsense that came from the later stages of the feminist project, when the goal went from legally empowering women to denying and destroying the unique identify of women.

    That’s the right thing to do. However, the practical thing to do is to tell colleges to treat allegations of rape as exactly that: allegations of rape. They should be dealt with by the police, with consequences for the man — if he’s guilty — or for the woman who files a fraudulent complaint if that’s the case. Colleges are trying to simultaneously communicate that rape is serious (by imposing a low evidentiary bar) while implicitly admitting that they don’t really believe it (because they refuse to treat it as the violent crimes it is). That serves no one well.

    I agree with every point you make, Hank! And with all your experience in this area(!), with kids in college, your points hold up very well. Thanks!

    • #15
    • September 11, 2017 at 6:28 am
    • 4 likes
  16. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):
    They also have clearly stated that they believe their colleges should be magical safe spaces where nothing bad can ever happen to them. It must be gently explained to them that no one can promise them a totally safe space, and they should be encouraged to get firearms training and carry a gun to protect themselves, if they feel that is necessary.

    This! If the Left wants equality, that means equality under the law, no matter where you are in these United States. Thanks, Judithann.

    • #16
    • September 11, 2017 at 6:29 am
    • 3 likes
  17. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Ralphie (View Comment):
    Don’t let children leave home until they are off their parent’s insurance, like 26 years old. I’m kind of kidding. The problems with young men and young women living and working in close quarters, like in the military and college, are similar. Common sense says more oversight by adults, but young people are supposed to be adults. Young people who do not go to college are subject to the legal system, and those who go to college should not be judged in a different way.

    Ralphie, excellent points. Unfortunately I think many parents are not raising their kids to be adults, but rather to be entitlement beings who need to be pampered. I guess they have to realize the real world eventually. How about now!

    • #17
    • September 11, 2017 at 6:32 am
    • 2 likes
  18. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Skyler (View Comment):
    The practical difference between preponderance of the evidence and clear and convincing evidence is more theoretical than real, but it’s still good to correct it.

    It sends a message, too, Skyler, that the universities can’t run roughshod over the people who are involved. I always appreciate your legal perspective!

    • #18
    • September 11, 2017 at 6:34 am
    • 1 like
  19. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    MJBubba (View Comment):
    Feminists are on the attack, and their Leftist media allies have been pounding Secretary DeVos. Several media outlets have uncritically parroted feminist lies.

    http://dailycaller.com/2017/09/08/feminists-trot-out-ludicrous-1-in-4-rape-statistic-to-oppose-due-process-on-campus/

    This is a great piece, MJ. Outrageous stuff from the Left, but it shines a light on their bizarre approach to these issues and the lies they are prepared to tell to support them. Thanks!

    • #19
    • September 11, 2017 at 6:38 am
    • 2 likes
  20. Member

    If universities really want to help victims in these circumstances, perhaps they could provide (alleged) victims with emotional counseling, accompaniment in going to the police and legal advice and accompaniment in filing a legal case, instead of pre-judging the (alleged) perpetrator.

    • #20
    • September 11, 2017 at 7:41 am
    • 6 likes
  21. Coolidge

    Susan Quinn: What are your thoughts? How do you think these situations should be handled?

    The only thing a school – or any civil authority – should do when a violent crime is reported, is call the police, the real police. Get a real investigation, with a real trail and verdict.

    Shouldn’t any attempt to deal with this kinda thing internally be viewed as a ‘cover up’ and obstruction of justice?

    • #21
    • September 11, 2017 at 7:46 am
    • 13 likes
  22. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    La Tapada (View Comment):
    If universities really want to help victims in these circumstances, perhaps they could provide (alleged) victims with emotional counseling, accompaniment in going to the police and legal advice and accompaniment in filing a legal case, instead of pre-judging the (alleged) perpetrator.

    If they did, they’d have to provide it for the alleged perpetrators, too. You know, what’s good for the goose . . . h.m.m.m.m.m….

    • #22
    • September 11, 2017 at 7:56 am
    • 5 likes
  23. Member

    Another reason why the federal government should be completely out of the education game, funding included. Close the Department of Education, end Pell Grants, student loans, etc. Education will become a lot cheaper too.

    • #23
    • September 11, 2017 at 8:49 am
    • 6 likes
  24. Member

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):
    If, for instance, a young woman is raped by another student and has to continue attending classes with him while the wheels of justice slowly turn, that would be awful…

    This, too, is a simple matter for law enforcement, without involvement of the college, except as a third party, attending to the requirements of a restraining order. Once again, it’s the colleges that have made a mess of the whole thing, at the direction of the Department of Education.

    As a law enforcement officer, my “spider sense” would start to tingle, to put it mildly, if an alleged rape victim would not want – nay demand – an RO. That can and should be put into effect on the spot.

    • #24
    • September 11, 2017 at 10:45 am
    • 3 likes
  25. Member

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    it’s destructive. What it produces is an environment in which men are free to pursue their sexual urges, and in which women feel ashamed not to respond in kind. In terms of discernment and self-respect, it’s a race to the bottom.

    100% Agree! As a mother of college age and near college age of both genders, I desire that none of my children be abused, by another person or by a misguided bureaucracy. The Title IX dean etc is a portrayed as a way to shield women, victims of assault, from the “secondary assault” of the criminal justice system. What a bunch of hooey! If you are a legal adult and you are off to college, you have to be a big girl and deal with law enforcement if you are victimized. If you can’t do that, stay home with mommy and daddy. There are plenty of supports for victims (counseling etc), but you have to report a rape as a crime, and get examined, and tell your story…repeatedly. And maybe testify in court someday. College deans and related apparatus have no business in the criminal investigation/adjudication business. I have taught my daughters to not shower, report immediately to law enforcement and call me asap if they are ever victimized.

    • #25
    • September 11, 2017 at 6:56 pm
    • 3 likes
  26. Member

    Susan Quinn: It replaced the “clear and convincing standard” which requires a party to prove that it is substantially more likely than not that it is true.

    What happened to “beyond a reasonable doubt?”

    • #26
    • September 11, 2017 at 10:21 pm
    • 2 likes
  27. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: It replaced the “clear and convincing standard” which requires a party to prove that it is substantially more likely than not that it is true.

    What happened to “beyond a reasonable doubt?”

    I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect it’s too high a bar:

    The term connotes that evidence establishes a particular point to a moral certainty and that it is beyond dispute that any reasonable alternative is possible. It does not mean that no doubt exists as to the accused’s guilt, but only that no Reasonable Doubt is possible from the evidence presented.

    • #27
    • September 12, 2017 at 5:47 am
    • 1 like
  28. Coolidge

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: It replaced the “clear and convincing standard” which requires a party to prove that it is substantially more likely than not that it is true.

    What happened to “beyond a reasonable doubt?”

    Reasonable doubt is the reason they’re doing this, if they wanted this standard they could just call the police. By using a few young men as sacrificial scapegoats, they hope to produce a citizenry easily intimidated by fear of the accusation, and easily impressed by accusations. Rather than hearing the evidence (if any) and making a informed rational judgement. So that they can continue to stampede their base to vote for them – rather than engage in a losing debate on the issues.

    Look at how the left has engaged Trump – The Trump dossier and Russian Collusion – 2 conspiracy theories with zero evidence. They expected the public to be stampeded into supporting them – just on the face of the accusation! However the press’s lack of credibility has destroyed this ability.

    Could you imagine – if Walter Cronkite had aired a report like the Trump dossier on Reagan? Depicting Reagan’s immoral Hollywood lifestyle?

    • #28
    • September 12, 2017 at 7:33 am
    • 4 likes
  29. Member

    Judithann Campbell (View Comment):
    Any allegations of sexual assault should be turned over to law enforcement. Colleges should not be involved in this at all, except to turn the cases over to law enforcement.

    Amen. College officials are not cops. Criminal cases are too complicated to be handled by other than professionals. It’s silly to equate sexual assault with sexual harassment or discrimination — they’re in different universes. College officials had no business dealing with these matters in the first place, they need to be sent to law enforcement.

    • #29
    • September 12, 2017 at 7:40 am
    • 3 likes
  30. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    big spaniel (View Comment):
    Amen. College officials are not cops. Criminal cases are too complicated to be handled by other than professionals.

    Ah, but they’re academics, big! They’re smarter than all of us! Amen to your comment. Thank you.

    • #30
    • September 12, 2017 at 10:12 am
    • 2 likes