Culture

Biden Trashes DeVos's New Campus Harassment Rules

The education secretary restores due process, and the hypocritical Left goes nuts.

Michael Swartz · May 8, 2020

It’s been 20 months since Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told a student audience at George Mason University that one of her priorities would be to bring the Rule of Law back to American college campuses. This week, we’re finally seeing some results.

At issue was a Barack Obama-era directive known as the “Dear Colleague” letter, which brought utter chaos to Title IX compliance at colleges and universities. Specifically, the Obama administration’s “guidance” did away with due process for those accused of sexual harassment or assault. For example, a young woman who woke up to regret a drunken sexual encounter could now claim assault, and her “assailant” would be considered guilty and often expelled from school or otherwise punished. Real victims should be heard and real perpetrators punished, but this rewarded not only regret for irresponsible sex but flat-out rape hoaxes that have become somewhat faddish.

To summarize the evolution of DeVos’s new rules, they were initially proposed back in November 2018 and, after having waded through more than 124,000 public comments, the Department of Education this week finalized a 2,000-page document — not exactly light reading, but very thorough in its effect. (Even the brief summary is nine pages.) “Compare that to the Obama Administration,” opines The Wall Street Journal editorial board, “which created the campus kangaroo courts with nothing more than an informal guidance letter that nonetheless carried the threat of withheld federal funds.”

“This new regulation,” said DeVos, “requires schools to act in meaningful ways to support survivors of sexual misconduct, without sacrificing important safeguards to ensure a fair and transparent process.”

According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the sum total of the new regulations is this: “An express presumption of innocence; live hearings with cross-examination conducted by an advisor of choice, who may be an attorney; sufficient time and information — including access to evidence — to prepare for interviews and a hearing; impartial investigators and decision-makers; [and] a requirement that all relevant evidence receive an objective evaluation.” The standard for conviction rises from Obama’s weak “preponderance of evidence” to a stronger requirement that the evidence be “clear and convincing.”

Alas, this much-needed dose of common sense has its critics, and those critics are likely looking for a friendly Obama-appointed judge to keep the onerous “Dear Colleague” rules in place. Catherine Lhamon, who currently chairs the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, was formerly the assistant secretary for civil rights in the Obama Department of Education, putting her in charge of Title IX compliance. She blasted the new rules, absurdly charging that DeVos “presides over taking us back to the bad old days, that predate my birth, when it was permissible to rape and sexually harass students with impunity.” Protecting due process is a long way from making crime “permissible.”

Rightly labeling Lhamon’s statement as “appalling hyperbole,” columnist David Harsanyi noted, “It would certainly be helpful if Democrats who are denouncing DeVos’s campus-sexual-assault policies would explain which rules they object to, and why.”

How would a Biden administration respond? The Democrats’ presumed standard-bearer vowed to put DeVos’s policy “to a quick end” next January should he be elected because the new regulation “gives colleges a green light to ignore sexual violence and strip survivors of their rights.”

Really, Joe? One wonders whether he understands that the increasingly credible sexual-assault accusations he’s facing right now would’ve gotten him expelled under the Obama-era rules. He’s damnably guilty by his own standard, making his condemnation of DeVos what the Washington Examiner’s Brad Polumbo rightly calls “hypocrisy of the highest order.”

Moreover, Biden’s track record of “believing all women” is pretty selective. As Collin Anderson at The Washington Free Beacon notes, “Biden was one of six Democrats who joined an effort to block the Office of Senate Fair Employment Practices in 1991 on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.” He adds, “The vote came less than two years before Tara Reade allegedly filed a complaint about her treatment as an employee in Biden’s Senate office.”

Taken together, Biden’s contradictory statements and actions tell us all we need to know about the man. If it weren’t for double standards, he wouldn’t have any at all.

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