Betsy DeVos Thinks Accused College Rapists Should Have More Rights

by Mike Julianelle
Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images

DeVos’s plans will undermine sexual assault victims

Remember when policies were put in place to protect victims? The Trump administration seems intent on making us forget by rolling back every reasonable Obama-era program.

In the latest controversial administration decision, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced plans to overhaul Title IX policies for campus sexual assault.

In case you were worried that women were getting too coddled, supremely unqualified secretary of education Betsy DeVos is here to make sure things are set right. (Just kidding. She’s making it worse.)

In a speech delivered at George Mason University on Thursday, DeVos discussed her plans to roll back the Obama administrations’ attempt to more strongly enforce Title IX. You know, that rule that prevents colleges and schools that receive federal funding from discriminating based on gender. Apparently, DeVos thinks it’s men, and accused rapists, who need more protection.

“Any perceived offense can become a full-blown Title IX investigation, but if everything is harassment then nothing is,” DeVos said in a speech at George Mason University on Thursday, according to NBC News.

In 2011, Obama and his team asked schools to be more diligent in their enforcement of Title IX, but apparently the new administration thinks it went too far. DeVos, like her boss, didn’t shy away from criticizing the Obama administration, claiming that their approach “weaponized the Office of Civil Rights to work against schools and against students.”

“Survivors, victims of a lack of due process and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved,” DeVos stated.

During her remarks, she hesitated to commit to outright changing the policy, at least not before soliciting public feedback on the program currently in place. The last time she solicited the opinions of a group of people, it was to listen to men’s rights activists complain about being victimized.

DeVos tried to frame the decision to revisit Title IX as a win for fair process, stating that “Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined.”

Protesters gathered outside, including Jessica Davidson and her group “End Rape On Campus,” who were dismayed by the fact that no survivors groups were invited to attend.

Critics like Alexandra Brodsky of the National Women’s Leadership Council see see DeVos’s remarks as potentially harmful to victims’ rights. In an interview with NBC News, Brodsky said the Secretary made “false equivalencies between the experiences of survivors and the experiences of accused students” and “misrepresented” what Obama intended.

Someone in President Trump’s camp misrepresenting something? Crazy.

This is simply the latest misstep in a string of bad decisions from an unqualified Secretary of Education and the beleaguered Trump administration.

It sounds like there are similarities between Betsy DeVos’ remarks about how “if everything is harassment then nothing is” and Trump’s Charlottesville remarks about violence on “many sides.” DeVos has already thrown a bone to despicable “Men’s Rights” activists, having met with them to listen to their pathetic attempts to paint themselves as victims.

One would hope a woman would recognize the imbalance in the system and would want to change it. But Betsy DeVos is going backward. Her track record, coupled with her remarks this week, make it clear that she is not on the side of survivors.

The fact is that victims of sexual assault already face an uphill battle, and the Obama administration’s efforts to enforce Title IX were simply put in place to make it easier for victims to get the support and protection they need. Rolling back those protections will make it even more difficult and make things easier for men who already overwhelmingly get away with assault. Remember Brock Turner? He’s emblematic of a system that rarely punishes men for these crimes.

Unfortunately, rolling back Obama-era policies that protect those most in need of it seems to be all that the Trump administration is interested in doing.