Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos unveiled several new rules that will be changed regarding Title IX protections for college students accused of sexual misconduct, as reported by CNN.
The changes involve increased legal protection for the accused, including the right during trial to cross-examiner their accusers. In a statement regarding the implementation, DeVos said that “too many students have lost access to their education because their school inadequately responded when a student filed a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual assault.”
This marks a significantly different approach from the Obama Administration, which outlined its college sexual harassment policies in the infamous “dear colleague” letter in 2011; under the previous administration, in a precursor to the “Me Too” movement, colleges were ordered to take the default position of believing the accusers, and putting the burden of proof for disproving allegations on the accused.
The new rules are set to go into effect in August. As opposed to the Obama Administration’s broad definition of sexual harassment, the new rules define sexual harassment on college campuses as one of three scenarios: “A school employee conditioning education benefits on participation in unwelcome sexual conduct,” “unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would determine is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the school’s education program or activity,” and “sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.”
The new rules will also apply to certain off-campus activities, including Greek life, but will not include accusations of sexual misconduct that took place during study abroad programs.