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Activists, Democrats, and the Media Keep Smearing Betsy DeVos Over New Title IX Rules

Misleading reporting makes due process sound like a bad thing.

DeVosCheriss May/ZUMA Press/NewscomWith an eye toward restoring a measure of fairness to adjudicating campus sexual misconduct, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced new standards for such procedures on Friday.

Some in the media seemed determine to misrepresent these changes, and are uncritically parroting claims from victims' advocacy groups who think any attempt to reform Title IX—the federal statute that forbids sex discrimination—is an attack on sexual assault survivors.

The worst example is an article from Abbey Crain, whose article at Alabama.com makes several significant errors.

"Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' proposed changes for how schools handle Title IX cases would allow students accused of sexual assault to cross-examine their victim," writes Crain.

This is simply untrue. The new rules specify that an accused student's lawyer or support person must conduct the cross-examination.

"The rules would create a higher burden of proof for victims of sexual assault to prove a Title IX violation occurred," Crain continues, "removing Obama-era regulations that required a 'preponderance of the evidence.'"

This isn't quite right either: Colleges may use a higher burden of proof than the preponderance of the evidence, but it's not mandatory.

Crain then turns the article over to Madeline Anscombe, a victims' rights activist who claims the changes would "limit ways students who are sexually assaulted could seek justice."

But the new rules give students more options for seeking justice. The permit accusers who do not wish to undergo the full-court treatment to seek informal resolution, mediation, restorative justice, or any other option that satisfies both parties. "At any time prior to reaching a determination regarding responsibility the recipient may facilitate an informal resolution process, such as mediation, that does not involve a full investigation and adjudication," the new rules state.

Perhaps the Title IX activist community wants everyone accused of sexual misconduct to be subjected to life-ruining sanction, but I get the sense that some victims are not actually keen on such an outcome. They may want the accused to acknowledge wrongdoing, learn about consent, set things right, and pledge to behave better. Such a course of action won't always fit the circumstances, of course, but the option is there.

Next, Crain consults...another foe of due process: University of Alabama Law School Professor Joyce Vance, who accuses DeVos of lacking "basic empathy for survivors" and making campuses less safe for women. This is blatant fearmongering that reduces a complicated problem to a black-or-white safety issue.

The article then briefly quotes a DeVos speech from 2017. Otherwise, there are no quotes from anyone who supports the new rules.

A piece in The Atlantic also leaves readers with a false impression of the DeVos rules. "Betsy DeVos's Sexual-Assault Rules Would Let the Accused Cross-Examine Accusers," the headline reads. Again, that's not really true: Representatives for the accused will question the accusers, and vice versa. The article's author, Adam Harris, doesn't concede this until his third paragraph, spinning it as potentially a bad thing because it "could create a system where rich students who can afford a good attorney would have an unfair advantage in the hearings." This is indeed a problem, although it's also one that plagues the plain-old criminal justice system, in which those with less access to material wealth are assigned a public defender. In any case, doesn't banning attorneys from meaningfully participating in the hearings at all—something previous Title IX guidance permitted colleges to do—run a greater risk of unfairness?

The Atlantic, it should be noted, has done some great work on the myriad problems with Title IX enforcement. The magazine ran Emily Yoffe's terrific three-part series on the subject, and staff writer Conor Friedersdorf has penned an excellent defense of DeVos' new rules. He also took the American Civil Liberties Union to task for coming out against the reforms—and, essentially, against due process. The ACLU's betrayal here is especially concerning, given some of its recent stances. (See an ACLU spokesperson's bizarre statement that "more should have been done" to the person who recently disrupted a performance of Fiddler on the Roof in Baltimore.) Wendy Kaminer, a lawyer and former ACLU board member, points out that ACLU has previously defended the rights of Nazis and Klansmen, making it all the more telling that the organization has suddenly lots its nerve.

Prominent Democrats have also condemned DeVos: Presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) has accused her and the Trump administration at large of perpetuating "the most anti-woman, anti-student and anti-equality agenda in recent memory." No amount of hyperbole is too over-the-top for DeVos's critics.

Photo Credit: Cheriss May/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • Eddy||

    "Activists, Democrats, and the Media"

    That Venn diagram looks a lot like a plain old circle.

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, yeah. But with three levels it is really, really dark - - - - - - -

  • KevinP||

    Robby is just repeating himself.

  • Aloysious||

    But as long as the accusations smears are credible, that's all that matters, right?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "Activists, Democrats, and the Media"

    But you repeat yourself.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Soave cant bring himself to use "Lefties" yet.

  • Sevo||

    "Activists, Democrats, and the Media Keep Smearing Betsy DeVos Over New Title IX Rules"

    You can turn the page, or you can send one dollar to provide help to those in need of treatment.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Why do you hate women?

  • Longtobefree||

    Because they have created a giant conspiracy to remove constitutional protections and call it justice.
    Well, OK, only some have done that. I hate the rest because they allowed them to.

  • Zeb||

    I think it's your fault for failing to stop it.

  • vek||

    That's true actually. It's white mens fault for allowing all this nonsense to get out of line.

    There's a reason men have always run countries... And since whites were the super majority in the USA, it was our responsibility to make sure shit stayed on track. As a sane older millennial, I fucking hate all you boomers for letting shit slide this far down hill on your watch!

    FOR THE RECORD I'm only half kidding. All of the above is at least half true as well.

  • Jerryskids||

    You should check out Paul Cassell across the way on VC, his idea of #BelieveAllVictims includes the victims of all crimes. Getting charged with a crime is all the proof you need of somebody's guilt and if the cops have no evidence they should be able to beat a confession out of the perp if that's what it takes. No Miranda rights for criminals! And from that point on, victims have special rights to determine adjudication of the case, who knows more about the case than the victim? And lynch mobs are so well-known for their level-headed judicial temperament, why would you want some uninformed, uninvolved, unbiased neutral party involved?

  • ||

    Crain then turns the article over to Madeline Anscombe, a victims' rights activist who claims the changes would "limit ways students who are sexually assaulted could seek justice."

    Yeah, I'm thinking that they haven't fully considered the ramifications of "unlimited ways to seek justice".

  • Toranth||

    I think it's great to see the Democrats coming out in support of the 2nd Amendment!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Is it at all possible that the president might be on to something vis-à-vis the journalists who cover his administration?

  • Remember to keep it all polit||

    Dunno, but they covered Obama to, when they should have uncovered him and his flunkies.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    No, Drumpf is just an authoritarian who demonizes the free press for simply doing their jobs. It's one of his many terrifying similarities to Hitler.

  • JesseAz||

    The German press largely supported Hitler one the righteous journalists took over. Isn't it weird that we are more worried about an antagonistic relationship between the press and executive rather than an incestuous one?

  • 0x1000||

    Who is "we" ?

    Is it the press themselves? Because then, well, no.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    No square mustache, no Hitler.

  • Homple||

    It is not irrational to at least think about what Fist said.

  • Cosmo Man||

    It seems that most of those opposed to the new rules are in favor of guilty with no chance to be proven innocent.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Comtrol. Its all about control.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Prominent Democrats have also condemned DeVos: Presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) has accused her and the Trump administration at large of perpetuating "the most anti-woman, anti-student and anti-equality agenda in recent memory."

    I'm thrilled the #BlueTsunami will return Nancy Pelosi to a more prominent role in American politics. It's about time the party that cares about marginalized groups is back in charge of the House.

    #LibertariansForPelosi
    #LibertariansAgainstRapeCulture

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The article's author, Adam Harris, doesn't concede this until his third paragraph, spinning it as potentially a bad thing because it "could create a system where rich students who can afford a good attorney would have an unfair advantage in the hearings."

    A previous version of this story mischaracterized the proposed questioning process for students accused of sexual assault. We regret the error.

    Do you?

  • Eddy||

    "We at the Atlantic would like to make a few minor corrections to our story.

    "Betsy DeVos did not actually say 'I blame coeds for my ugliness and I'm going to take it out on them.' That was actually a dream the reporter had.

    "The mass murderer Edward Gein is not in fact a key aide to DeVos. In fact, he doesn't work in the Department of Education at all. He was executed before DeVos's term began.

    "We regret the errors and welcome this opportunity to make the needed corrections."

  • Eddy||

    "Also, we cannot confirm that DeVos said 'who *wouldn't* want to be raped by a big, hunky college jock, yum!'"

  • Eddy||

    Correction to the correction, from Wikipedia: "Gein died at the Mendota Mental Health Institute due to respiratory failure secondary to lung cancer on July 26, 1984, at the age of 77."

    Further corrections as events warrant, and they will.

  • maddarter||

    With respect to private universities, is it Reason's position that the government should set minimum standards for when a private business can choose to cease doing business with one of its customers/clients? I thought the Reason position was that private businesses, like bakers, or anyone for that matter, could choose to do business with whomever they want for whatever reason. And if the rules are unfair to a group of people, shouldn't the market be able to fix that when people who might be treated unfairly go elsewhere?

  • soldiermedic76||

    Public universities are public. Also, most private universities receive plenty of funding from the government, not least being student loans and grants. So, outside a very small minority, there is almost no such thing as a "private" university.

  • maddarter||

    I specifically referenced private. Just because there's a public funding hook that can be used to impose requirements, that does not make the institutions less private or mean that the government needs to set rules.

  • ||

    Unless the contract with the baker specifically says, "Unless he gets convicted of a felony." there's very little question about whether they still have to bake a cake for me or not after I get arrested.

    Additionally, the issue isn't just the false, DeVos vs. Free Market, dichotomy you portray it. The decisions and actions provoking DeVos' actions weren't the free market deciding too many men were attending universities.

  • Sevo||

    "Just because there's a public funding hook that can be used to impose requirements, that does not make the institutions less private or mean that the government needs to set rules."

    Yes, it does. You lose.

  • Brandybuck||

    Private universities who receive the majority of their funding directly or indirectly from the state and Federal government are not really private.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    They're private-ish. IN that you have no say in what they do and to whom they do it.

  • Mickey Rat||

    The Title IX guidelines already existed before DeVos. Should Title IX apply to private schools? Probably not, but that was not on the table and ending the harm done by Obama's interpretation was more important than getting a perfect solution.

  • JesseAz||

    Title ix only applies to schools that accept public financing or loans.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Except government loans are made to the student, not to the school. The logic of the justification that an organization must give up its rights with respect to the government because the government is giving their customer money does not follow.

  • JesseAz||

    Government loans are given to students with the expectations they are enrolled in an accredited university. They are not given to them for shits and giggles. It allows them to regulate the loan process since the loans are federally backed against risk. The Universities are not giving up their rights, they are working with the government for a risk guaranteed subsidy in exchange for tutoring college students.

    This isn't a difficult concept. It's very similar to EMTALA. Let me guess, you don't understand that program either?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Colleges make applications to govenrment to allow students to receive federal student loans for attending their schools. Collegse have to be recognized as worthy of federal student aid.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    There is a difference between no I won't take your money to bake you a cake, and I took your money to bake you a cake and now you've offended me and I will not give you your cake or your money back.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    huh, that should have went under Maddarter's post.

  • JesseAz||

    So you're intentionally ignoring the contractual issues between a student and the college why again? Half of the cases that have been adjudicated rely on this relationship and the school not following their own guidelines.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""And if the rules are unfair to a group of people, shouldn't the market be able to fix that when people who might be treated unfairly go elsewhere?"'

    Does that mean I get my tuition back?

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "With respect to private universities, is it Reason's position that the government should set minimum standards for when a private business can choose to cease doing business with one of its customers/clients?"

    I don't know Reason's position, but I'll say sure, as long as the university provides the customer/client, that they are choosing to cease doing business with, with a full refund and I'm not just talking bout the current term.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    But how do they compensate you for a few years of lost time?

  • Naaman Brown||

    Four days from graduation, and an unprovable undisprovable accusation of sexual assault gets you expelled without a degree and you lose four years of your life and the money and have a accusation of sexual assault hanging over your head.

    That is comparable to finding another baker to bake a cake, or another restaurant to accept you as a patron?

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'm not sure Robby knows that we're all familiar with how the media smears people they don't like.

    Do you think it might have something to do with her being in the Trump administration?

  • JesseAz||

    Robby was smearing kavanaugh just last month, why I find this line of articles the last 2 weeks amusing.

  • John||

    Two women accused him of rape. He was clearly guilty of something. Robby was sure of this.

  • JesseAz||

    Credibly accused him. If they had only stopped at 2 credible accusations they wouldn't have jumped the shark.. Robby was sad about this.

  • Naaman Brown||

    Credible without corroborating witnesses or physical evidence of a crime?

    We are getting into less than Salem Witch Trial levels of evidence territory.

  • Zeb||

    It' may be that we are not the target audience.

  • TuIpa||

    We are always making value judgements. The comfort of sexual assault victims is not worth lighting due process protections on fire.

  • ||

    The comfort of alleged sexual assault victims is not worth lighting due process protections on fire.

    FIFY. Actual sexual assault victims can take their cases to the police where due process works in their favor.

  • TuIpa||

    No, you didn't fix it. I explicitly meant actual assault victims. They aren't worth turning the world upside down over.

  • Ken Shultz||

    You guys may not believe this, but right here --in the United States of America --the media is mischaracterizing someone in the Trump administration!!!

  • 68W58||

    What?!? Well that can't be! Are you sure?

    Walks away while giving Ken a hard, questioning look over his shoulder.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You need a citation because I dont believe it!

  • Uncle Jay||

    Of course due process is a bad idea.
    I mean, what next?
    Private gun ownership?

  • Mickey Rat||

    How barbaric!

    How can the people get the reassurance that justice was done with all this due process stuff getting in the way?

  • Rockabilly||

    As Freud remarked - Control the penis and you control the mind !

  • Eddy||

    The penis, mightier than the sword.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Mr. Penis and Mr. sword were my alternatong nicknames on college.

    This was coincidently when parties were purposely set up and attended by people who expected to have sex.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Suck it, Trebek.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    I'll take Swords for 400

  • Gibbs78||

    "Perhaps the Title IX activist community wants everyone accused of sexual misconduct to be subjected to life-ruining sanction,..."

    The "activist" community wants to see people guilty until proven innocent....

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    "'The "activist" community wants to see people guilty until proven innocent...."'

    They want to be the decider of who gets rights, or not.

  • wreckinball||

    Bingo, this standard of guilty until proven innocent won;t be applied equally.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Principals not principles

  • soldiermedic76||

    Do they even believe it is possible to prove innocence in their minds?

  • majil||

    I got no use for the Thug Pigs but it is they ,not colleges that need to deal with this crap.

  • John||

    It is sadly unsurprising that reason hasn't said a word from what I have seen about the ACLU's bizzare statement about these regs. According to the ACLU they " inappropriately tips the scales in favor of the accused and against those who report sexual assault. "

    I think we can end the debate over whether the ACLU is anything but a leftist front group now.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Robby found the ACLU statement "astonishing" last week.

  • 68W58||

  • Paulpemb||

    Credit where it's due, Robby did call out the ACLU over this.

    http://reason.com/blog/2018/11.....ue-process

  • Zeb||

    That's pretty bad.

    The scales should be tipped toward the accused. The accused has a lot more at risk.

    There are two mistakes that could be made: failing to punish a guilty person or inappropriately punishing an innocent person. In almost all cases, it seems to me, the former is the worse mistake to make. It sucks if you got raped, but kicking someone out of school isn't going to get you un-raped.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Your last two sentences seem to be contradictory.

  • soldiermedic76||

    No, no they don't. The idea is pretty simple, it is better to let a 100 guilty people go free then to imprison one innocent person.

  • soldiermedic76||

    Or punish one innocent person

  • wreckinball||

    Move to France please

  • wreckinball||

    Move to France please

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its why the constitution guarantees a jury trial for the accused.

    Last ditch check to government power before they lock you up and throw away the key.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Colleges dont offer jury trials.

  • Paulpemb||

    "The worst example is an article from Abbey Crain, whose article at Alabama.com makes several significant errors."

    If you tell a big enough lie, and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.

  • Fk_Censorship||

    Do you know who also said stuff that is always quoted on comment boards?

  • Eddy||

    "Anonymous"?

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Wow, way to out me.

  • Ken Hagler||

    "... I get the sense that some victims are not actually keen on such an outcome."

    _I_ get the sense that the accused is always the victim in these campus witch hunts, and when a real crime has occurred real victims go to the police.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Why would I go to the police when I can just carry a mattress around and get national press coverage and an invite to Washington DC.

  • Fk_Censorship||

    I don't know, I'd get really tired of carrying a mattress around all the time. Although there was a fellow who hitchhiked around Ireland with a fridge and wrote a book about it, which was pretty funny.

  • esteve7||

    How far the left has fallen when 'due process' needs to be in scare quotes for them.

    Once again everything they purport to stand for is a lie. They do not believe in justice, just pure power politics.

    Accused of a crime and lower on the progressive stack, get fucked. No recourse for you, you X Y Z blah blah blah

  • Robert||

    I'm guessing the drunk in Balto. wasn't antisemitic, but instead making fun of Trump.

  • ||

    Pelosi is just plain pathetic.

  • mtrueman||

    Running on a platform to make rape a more attractive option is not going to be much of a vote winner.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|11.19.18 @ 10:32PM|#
    "Running on a platform to make rape a more attractive option is not going to be much of a vote winner."

    Making idiotic statements will simply confirm your lack of logical skills, you pathetic piece of shit:
    mtrueman|8.30.17 @ 1:42PM|#
    "Spouting nonsense is an end in itself."
    Fuck off.

  • wreckinball||

    A winner, dumb as shot comment of the day

  • mtrueman||

    Thanks to these reforms, if you rape, your chances of getting away with it will improve. Especially if you have money and connections. A pro-rape platform is fraught with risks.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    And he doubled down on it. lol.

  • Bender B. Rodriguez||

    This isn't quite right either: Colleges may use a higher burden of proof than the preponderance of the evidence, but it's not mandatory.

    Not only is it not mandatory, it must be consistent with all other student disciplinary standards. I can't foresee any schools using a reasonable doubt standard to judge academic dishonesty cases, so the vast majority of them will continue with the preponderance of evidence standard.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Preponderance of evidence from the accuser and the accused both would be a fantastic start, though not perfect. The severe one sided argument structure was,I think, what was most damaging.

  • Penrose21||

    "Misleading reporting" What else did you expect? That's what the leftist media does and why they are the enemy of the people.

  • wreckinball||

    A good reason why sexual assault charges should be filed with the police period. The new guidelines will be circumvented.

    Let the campus tribunals deal with test cheating and food fights

  • ElNino||

    "removing Obama-era regulations" is also inaccurate, on two counts.

    First, the Obama administration couldn't be troubled with things like the notice-and-comment regulatory process, so instead of promulgating regulations, they just sent out a Dear Colleague Letter and changed the rules by fiat. So there were no "Obama-era regulations" on this subject.

    Second, whatever you call the Obama-era rules, they were removed back in September of last year (not by this latest action announced on Friday), along with a notice that the Department of Education would actually use the process to create regulations this time around (which takes more time and effort but has the virtue of being a legitimate way to impose specific new legal burdens).

    So two more errors in a mere four words!

  • vek||

    I've still been completely stupefied by how Reason almost never calls out the blatant lies of the MSM... They still like to pretend 99% of the time that they're like, honest, or something... And anytime the say the wrong thing, it MUST just be an innocent mistake. I'm glad to see a few call outs of their intentional distortions and lies the last couple days. I hope this trend picks up steam... Because Reason has no more reason to kowtow to the leftist media than right wing sites do. Everybody should be calling them out on their lies.

    As far as the subject at hand goes... What does Pelosi care about rape for anyway? NOBODY wants to rape her ugly old ass anyhow!

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