In addition to revoking Obama's "Dear Colleague" letter on Friday morning, the Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos also issued a new interim Q&A to replace Obama's key document from 2014 (which you can read here). The original Obama document outlined how colleges should investigate allegations of campus sexual misconduct under federal law. DeVos' guidelines Friday rolled back those recommendations.
While Obama's guidelines required schools to adopt a minimal standard of proof or a "preponderance of evidence" and discipline students, or risk losing federal funding under Title IX, the Department of Education's acting assistant secretary for civil rights, Candice Jackson, argued that the old guidelines "have led to the deprivation of rights for many students—both accused students denied fair process and victims denied an adequate resolution of their complaints." Under the new guidance, schools will no longer be required to evaluate sexual assault cases using the preponderance of evidence standard, but now have the option to apply a higher burden proof in campus sexual assault cases, making alleged sexual assault claims more difficult for complainants to prove.
DeVos has argued that the Obama-era guidelines favored students who accused others of sexual assault, while limited the rights of the accused.
"This interim guidance will help schools as they work to combat sexual misconduct and will treat all students fairly," DeVos said in a statement. "Schools must continue to confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on. There will be no more sweeping them under the rug. But the process also must be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes."
While Obama's guidelines included specific requirements regarding students who are assaulted by someone of the same gender, undocumented students, and students with disabilities, the new Q&A didn't reference the rights of minority groups. Here, some of the most alarming quotes from DeVos' new Q&A on campus sexual misconduct: