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White House Reverses Policy on Campus Sex Assaults

Women's rights groups say change will discourage reports
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 23, 2017 7:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Trump administration on Friday scrapped Obama-era guidance on investigating campus sexual assault, replacing it with new instructions that allow universities to require higher standards of evidence when handling complaints, the AP reports. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said that President Obama's policy had been unfairly skewed against those accused of assault and had "weaponized" the Education Department to "work against schools and against students." The change is the latest in Trump's broader effort to roll back Obama policies. Women's rights groups slammed Friday's decision, saying it will discourage students from reporting assault.

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The guidance released in 2011 and then updated in 2014 instructed universities to use a "preponderance of the evidence" standard when assessing and investigating a claim of sexual assault. DeVos' new interim guidelines let colleges choose between that standard and a "clear and convincing evidence" standard, which is harder to meet. Those rules will be in place temporarily while the Education Department gathers comments from interest groups and the public and writes new guidance. "The current failed system didn't work for students, it didn't work for institutions, it didn't work for anyone," DeVos said Friday. Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women's Law Center, said the new rule will have a "devastating" impact on students and schools and "make campuses less safe." (Read more sexual assault stories.)

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