DeVos planning to scrap Obama rules on campus sexual assault

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (dih-VAHS') says any new policy on investigating sexual assault on college campus must balance the rights of victims and the accused.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies before the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 6.

Protesters outside the speech chanted "stop supporting rapists", and advocates of sexual assault victims quickly criticized the announcement. In addition, a 2015 study by the Association of American Universities found that 60 percent of gay and lesbian students and almost 70 percent of bisexual students report being sexually harassed on campus.

"The system established by the prior administration has failed too many students", Ms. DeVos said. "Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined", she said.

At the same time, she says acts of sexual misconduct are "atrocious" and must be confronted head-on.

On Thursday, about two dozen protesters gathered outside the auditorium where DeVos delivered her speech.

They're carrying signs, and one says: "Donald Trump supports Betsy DeVos supports perpetrators".

"The failed system has generated hundreds upon hundreds of cases in the Department's Office for Civil Rights, mostly filed by students who reported sexual misconduct and believe their schools let them down", she said. Opponents said the rules lean against students accused of sexual assault, and pressure colleges to take strong action against the accused.

DeVos will speak at George Mason's Antonin Scalia Law School, named for the late conservative Supreme Court justice, according to a source with knowledge of the event and preliminary planning reviewed by BuzzFeed News.

Without specifying how her department plans to move forward, she cited several groups, including the American Bar Association and a collection of Harvard law professors, who have offered ideas for improving campus sexual assault procedures, including forming regional centers that investigate cases instead of individual schools handling cases internally.

While Ms. DeVos credited the Obama administration with bringing attention to the issue of campus sexual assault, she was scathing in her criticism of how the guidance had manifested itself on campuses.

Central to the debate is a 2011 memo from the Education Department that laid out rules colleges must follow when responding to complaints of sexual assault from their students.

DeVos sought to remake Obama administration policy employing Title IX - a 1972 law barring sex-based discrimination in education - to deal with campus sexual assault allegations. It was once seen as a measure to ensure equity in college sports, but in recent years has become associated with efforts to address sexual assault and harassment at college campuses.

But she said the Obama guidelines for addressing complaints were burdensome and confusing.

She described the sessions as "a really emotionally draining day" and said they "made it clear to me there's work to be done".

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