In a speech at George Mason University, one of the few universities where she can speak without student protests, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a retreat from the guidelines protecting victims of sexual assault on campus. She devoted equal time in her speech to the rights of the victims of rape and the rights of those accused of rape.
Her stance seems likely to discourage rape victims from coming forward, since doing so is already hazardous and puts them at risk of ostracism, especially when the alleged perpetrator is a popular athlete on campus.
Given that she was appointed by a man who has boasted of sexually assaulting women without their consent–just “grabbing them by” their genitals–her indifference to victims of sexual assault is not surprising.
When the subject was first discussed by the Secretary and the Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candace Jackson, Ms. Jackson said that most claims of sexual assault were bogus.
“Investigative processes have not been “fairly balanced between the accusing victim and the accused student,” Ms. Jackson argued, and students have been branded rapists “when the facts just don’t back that up.” In most investigations, she said, there’s “not even an accusation that these accused students overrode the will of a young woman.”
“Rather, the accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right,’” Ms. Jackson said.
“Ms. Jackson later issued a statement clarifying that the conclusion was based on feedback from cases involving accused students, and even if complaints don’t allege violence, “all sexual harassment and sexual assault must be taken seriously.”
“Such comments infuriate advocates for victims and women, who have spent the last six years waging a concerted campaign to educate college administrators, and the public, on students’ rights under the law, and how to combat what some have called “rape culture” on campus. A 2015 survey commissioned by the Association of American Universities found that more than one in four women at a large group of leading universities said they had been sexually assaulted by force or when they were incapacitated while in college.”
The current stance of the Department suggests that Jackson prevailed, that is, if anyone in her Office tried to persuade her that she was wrong. She meant what she said the first time. She believes that 90% of accusations are false.
The steady evisceration of civil rights continues apace.