President Biden asked the Education Department to revisit regulations on how colleges and universities handle accusations of sexual abuse and promised to dismantle the controversial system put into place by Betsy DeVos, the former U.S. Secretary of Education.
Released in May, DeVos’s regulations are seen by many as focused on the rights of those who were accused of sexual harassment or assault than the victims. The regulations were met with scrutiny from college students, women’s groups, democrats, and President Biden.
In January, several student organizations attended a meeting with ASU representatives, titled “Understanding the New Title 9: ASU’s new policies on Sexual and Relationship violence,”
Concerns were raised about the judicial-like process which gives the accused the right to hold a live cross-examination with the accuser—a policy that according to some, may discourage victims from coming forward.
President Biden put forth two executive orders. The first of which was the new education secretary to review the policies of DeVos and the other to establish a gender-focused White House policy council.
A proponent of Biden’s policy, Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.), said that students deserve a “granted” safe environment for learning and thus should be protected from all kinds of sexual abuse.
Biden’s actions were the first step “towards reversing the outrageous policies carried out by Secretary DeVos,” Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) said.
Some opponents of Biden’s review of the DeVos policy fear that the rights of the accused will become diminished.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) stated, “By overturning these stakeholder-vetted, court-supported rules, key protections for victims and the due process rights of the accused would be jeopardized.” Other opponents have claimed that the Obama administration issued guidelines for universities and colleges and leaned toward the side of the accuser and offered little to no protection for students accused of sexual harassment.
Proponents of Biden’s renewed policies say that the Trump administration swept towards the other side, giving too much power to the accused through court-like cross-examinations.
There’s growing pressure on Biden for a complete overhaul of the DeVos policies altogether. The newly sworn-in pick for education secretary, Miguel Cardona—confirmed in early March—will be reviewing the policies.
Civil rights groups, Democratic members of Congress, and numerous lawsuits challenging the validity of the DeVos regulations will likely be in play in the new rulemaking efforts.