In a recent speech, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has proclaimed that she will be re-examining the methods through which sexual assault cases are being handled on campuses across the country.
After opening her speech with strong rhetoric about sexual misconduct, saying that it was “lasting, profound, and lamentable,” DeVos went on the say that the rights of the accused should also be taken into consideration — seemingly more so than under the current systems left by the Obama administration.
“Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously,” DeVos said. “Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined.”
Critics of these remarks have been vocal about the blind eye that universities took in the past when dealing with cases of sexual misconduct on college campuses.
Catherine Lhamon, head of education’s civil rights office during the Obama administration, said “The speech pretty clearly sent a message that sexual assault will not be taken seriously by this administration,” a message that she feels “could not be more damaging.”
DeVos says that she and the Department of Education will be looking at the ways college campuses arbitrate cases of sexual misconduct, with her apparent emphasis being to protect the rights of the accused, and ensure that these parties are guaranteed a fair trial.
“We must continue to condemn the scourge of sexual misconduct on our campuses,” DeVos said at the close of her speech. “We can do a better job of making sure the handling of complaints is fair and accurate.”