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‘Activists have, perhaps willfully, misrepresented’ Betsy DeVos plan to revise Title IX guidance

Even as more than 100 advocacy groups and activists denounced Education Secretary Betsy DeVos* for rescinding Title IX guidance and laying out a public process to formalize new regulations, a British political journal doesn’t see what the hubbub is about.

The Economist accuses such activists of misrepresenting one particular element in interim guidance released last week by the Department of Education, “perhaps willfully”:

The rules also allow students to settle their case through mediation, which the old rules strangely forbid, if they voluntarily agree to it. In their haste to criticise the guidelines, activists have, perhaps wilfully, misrepresented this rule as a requirement that rapists force their victims into a room with them. There is little reason to believe that the interim guidelines will even force changes to the administrative policies of most universities. Indeed, the criticisms of Ms Devos’s reforms are generally light on specifics.

The publication also faults critics of DeVos, including Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and the former official who helped write the rescinded guidance, Catherine Lhamon, for ignoring “a number of deep flaws” in the rescinded guidance:

First, it was issued without a formal period of notice and comment, meaning that it lacked the force of law. Two documents, a letter sent in 2011 and 50 pages of question-and-answers issued in 2014, instead scared colleges into compliance by threatening their access to federal funds.

By forcing the “more likely than not” evidence standard of “preponderance” and relying on “hastily assembled” university tribunals that don’t even require adjudicators to be independent and impartial, the old guidance made findings less trustworthy, The Economist writes.

The interim guidance, meanwhile, is “eminently reasonable”: giving schools flexibility on evidence standard, requiring “equal access to procedures,” and preventing conflicts of interest.

And much of the groundwork for it was laid not by right-wing zealots, the publication writes, but by “law professors at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard.”

Read the article.

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