ABC Makes Patently False Claim About New Title IX Rules - Hit & Run

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Betsy DeVos, the U.S. education secretary, is proposing a major overhaul of the way colleges handle complaints of sexual misconduct, narrowing the definition of sexual harassment and increasing protections for students accused of misconduct.

In a statement, the Education Department said that the proposal "seeks to produce more reliable outcomes [of investigations], thereby encouraging more students to turn to their schools for support in the wake of sexual harassment and reducing the risk of improperly punishing students". The new rule would add protections for students accused of assault, harassment or rape, and reduce liability faced by schools.

DeVos previously said the existing rules were too prescriptive, pressuring schools to take heavy action against students accused of misconduct without giving them a fair chance to defend themselves.

Education secretary Betsy DeVos said the proposals are created to ensures fairness for students on both sides of accusations, while offering schools greater flexibility to help victims who don't want to file formal complaints that could trigger an investigation.

Sexual assault has come under increased spotlight over the past few years, with media referring to an "epidemic" of rape on United States college campuses.

The new rules do offer rights to the accuser as well as the accused, including requiring that the school offer the accuser supportive measures even if they don't file an official complaint. Eight in ten trans and gender nonconforming students in grades K-12 experience harassment, while more than one in three have been physically assaulted before the end of high school. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said in a roundtable discussion quoted by the Washington Post that the new rules will "will prioritize the interests of the institutions and the accused, while undermining protections for survivors". The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement on Twitter that the policy "promotes an unfair process" and will "make schools less safe for survivors of sexual assault and harassment".

Personal confrontation, however, between the complainant and the respondent would not be permitted.

NBC News and the watchdog group American Oversight determined that DeVos spent less than 4 percent of her time visiting traditional public schools in the school year that began in September 2017.

But supporters say the new rules do a better job providing equal treatment to all students. Though the guidance officially noted that schools can choose between either standard, they cannot have the lower standard in place for students if "clear and convincing evidence" is required for accusations against faculty members and employees.

The overhaul included a narrower definition of sexual harassment, which was described as "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature" under the 2011 DOE Office for Civil Rights guidance, issued in the form of a Dear Colleague letter.

"The proposed rule changes to Title IX put forward today for public comment by the Department of Education once again demonstrate that Secretary DeVos and her team lack basic empathy for survivors and do not care about campus safety", Vitchers said in a statement.

"It's making it more hard for students and not advocating for students as much as they were before", Elizabeth Dressler said.

It has yet to be seen whether schools would change policies in response to the rules. We are now reviewing the Department of Education's proposed rules.

University administrators, conservative legal scholars and advocacy groups, including "men's rights" groups, have heralded the new rules, believing the Obama-era guidelines were confusing, lacked due process and were biased in favor of accusers.

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