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Education Dept. Proposes Enhanced Protection For Students Accused Of Sexual Assault

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced sweeping rules on how colleges handle cases of sexual assault and harassment that she says will fix a “failed” and “shameful” system that has been unfair to accused students. In what the administration is calling a “historic process,” the proposed rules aim to significantly enhance legal protections for the accused and reflect a sentiment expressed by President Trump that men are unfairly being presumed guilty. More than a year in the making, the rules replace Obama-era policies on how to implement Title IX, the law barring gender discrimination in schools that get federal funding.

The new rules are drawing both applause and anger.

Among the most significant changes is that schools can make it harder to prove allegations by raising the level of proof needed. Instead of requiring only a “preponderance of the evidence,” as the Obama administration had directed, schools could demand “clear and convincing evidence.” And many schools may well be forced to raise the bar, since the regulations also require that the standard for students be the same as that used for faculty and staff.