WASHINGTON—In response to reports that the Department of Education will announce a new draft rule on campus sexual misconduct that would effectively offer additional protections to students accused of assault, harassment or rape, and limit the liability of the institutions where the incidents take place, AFT President Randi Weingarten said:
“Just once, I’d like to see Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education stand up for the people who really need it. Students, parents and educators want K-12 schools and college campuses to be safe havens. Nevertheless, two weeks ago, DeVos proposed regulations to make it harder for student loan borrowers who were misled by their institutions to have their loans forgiven. Last week, she said she wanted to use federal funds to stock schools with guns. And, now, she wants to use her powers to make it harder to prosecute sexual harassment and assault on campuses.
“Of course due process is important, but the evidence of the last several decades demonstrates that we need stronger protections for survivors, not for the accused perpetrators or the institutions that may be complicit in shielding them. Nearly one-quarter of college women and 15 percent of college men are victims of forced sex during their time in college, yet more than 90 percent of these incidents go unreported. The evidentiary standard described in this proposal would chill that reporting even further by allowing schools to choose a standard that stacks the deck against survivors. It should be easier to bring these cases to justice, not harder.
“Strengthening protections for alleged perpetrators of harassment, and for the institutions they attend, only enables further harassment, which in turn disrupts and undermines the education process. As a survivor of such violence, I’m appalled that this administration is walking away from the reforms to the culture of sexual violence on our campuses that we have worked so hard to achieve.”