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Saturday, May 25, 2024
Investigating and prosecuting sexual assault on college campuses could get more difficult, as new rules proposed by the education department would expand protections for those facing assault allegations.

Investigating and prosecuting sexual assault on college campuses could get more difficult, as new rules proposed by the education department would expand protections for those facing assault allegations.

Education department seeks to protect individuals accused of sexual assault

New proposed changes from the Trump administration would make it more difficult for students to prove wrongdoing in sexual assault allegations and increase protections for those accused.

The proposal would alter Obama-era policies enforced under Title IX, established to protect students from gender discrimination and sexual violence in educational settings.

"Every survivor of sexual violence must be taken seriously, and every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined," Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a statement. "We can, and must, condemn sexual violence and punish those who perpetrate it while ensuring a fair grievance process.”

The new rules would limit what the education department called the “overly broad” definition of sexual harassment, and allow those accused to directly question their accusers in campus hearings.

“With or without a hearing, the complainant and the respondent must have an equal opportunity to pose questions to the other party and to witnesses prior to a determination of responsibility, with each party being permitted the opportunity to ask all relevant questions and follow-up questions, including those challenging credibility, and a requirement that the recipient explain any decision to exclude questions on the basis of relevance,” the proposal stated.

Proposed rules would also only require schools to investigate allegations if the assault took place in a setting directly overseen by the school and was reported to campus officials, potentially making it more difficult to investigate and prosecute as many cases under Title IX.

The proposed changes come as the Association of American Universities prepares to undertake a new climate survey about sexual violence on campuses across the country.

According to the last AAU study in 2015, one in four women reported being sexually assaulted during their time in college.

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