Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Dept of Education Announces New Rules on Title IX for Campus Sexual Assault, Requiring a More Judicial Like Process and Granting More Rights to the Accused

Betsy DeVos Announces New Rules on Campus Sexual Assault, Offering More Rights to the Accused

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday released a sweeping new directive governing how schools must handle allegations of sexual assault and harassment, giving new rights to the accused and giving colleges a clear but controversial road map to navigating these highly charged investigations.


The final regulation bars universities from using a single official to investigate and judge complaints, a popular model, and instead creates a judicial-like process in which the accused has the right to cross-examine accusers and to a live hearing.


It also offers a narrow definition of sexual harassment, requiring that it be severe, pervasive and objectively offensive.

“Today we release a final rule that recognizes we can continue to combat sexual misconduct without abandoning our values,” DeVos told reporters. The regulation is scheduled to take effect in August.

Her approach has come under fire from women’s rights groups and Democrats, who said it would allow assailants and schools to escape responsibility and make college campuses less safe for women. It was welcomed by advocates for the accused, who say the existing procedures are unfairly biased against them.


Even before the regulation was released, opponents were vowing to challenge it in court, hoping to halt or at least stall the new rules.


“We will fight this rule in court, and we intend to win,” said Emily Martin, a vice president at the National Women’s Law Center, an advocacy group. She said the core of the challenge would be that the department was “arbitrary and capricious” and in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, and that the agency has ignored evidence showing that the rules would harm survivors of sexual violence.

Education, Violence Against Women | Permalink


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