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5 Fast Facts About the DeVos Changes to Campus Sexual Assault Policies

The policy rolls back Obama-era protections for victims of sexual assault

Jody Allard

Published on: September 22, 2017


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued temporary rules that govern how college campuses investigate allegations of sexual assault on Friday. These rules roll back Obama-era expansions of campus sexual assault policies under Title IX, and represent DeVos' stated desire to ensure accused students are granted due process.

Here are five things you need to know.

A tougher standard of evidence will be used in campus sexual assault cases. The most significant change to the policy is the standard of evidence campuses will be required to apply to sexual assault cases. Under the Obama-era protections, a "preponderance of evidence" standard was used, which requires that more than 50 percent of the evidence point to guilt in order to find an accused guilty. The new policy requires a "clear and convincing standard" of proof instead.

Victims will be allowed to be put on trial and lose their right to appeal. Under the Obama-era protections, victims weren't allowed to be cross-examined and they were given the right to appeal the verdict. Both of these protections for victims were rolled back on Friday.

Campuses can keep using the old policy — for now. While the policy allows campuses the right to continue applying the "preponderance of evidence" standard to sexual assault cases, that could change once the public comment period ends and a permanent policy is enacted. It's unclear at this time how many campuses plan to continue applying the preponderance standard.

Men's rights activists informed the new policy. Over the summer, DeVos visited a number of campuses to discuss the issue of rape and sexual assault. As part of her research, DeVos met with both sexual assault survivors and MRAs, and in July she told reporters that "All their stories are important."

False allegations of sexual assault are rare — and rarely lead to serious consequences. Researchers estimate that 2 to 10 percent of rape allegations are false. While that might seem like a concerning statistic, it's incredibly rare for false allegations to lead to serious consequences. Since 1989, there are only 52 cases where men were imprisoned for rape and later exonerated. By contrast, in the same period, 790 people were exonerated for murder.

When students are found guilty of rape or sexual assault in campus courts, they face suspension and even expulsion from college. However, a 2014 HuffPost analysis found that even when students are found guilty, they are only expelled in fewer than one-third of cases.

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