Betsy DeVos Plans to Overhaul Title IX, Focus on Due Process for Accusers and the Accused

The Education Department is drafting a new approach to campus sexual misconduct adjudication. It will permit colleges to adopt higher evidentiary standards in hearings, mandate cross-examination of relevant parties in a dispute, and stress that all students are considered innocent until proven guilty, an official with knowledge of the proposal has confirmed to Reason.

If adopted as formal policy, these measures would go a long way toward fixing the due process deficiencies that plagued the Obama administration’s guidance relating to Title IX, the federal statute that deals with sex discrimination in schools.

This news was first reported by The New York Times, which obtained a leaked draft of the new rules. The Education Department had not planned to release details to the public yet; as such, the agency declined comment to the Times. But Reason was able to confirm that the Education Department is indeed mulling the changes detailed in the Times story.

According to the Times, the new rules “would add the ability for victims and their accused perpetrators to request evidence from each other and to cross-examine each other. The rules also allow the complainant and the accused to have access to any evidence obtained during the investigation, even if there are no plans to use it to prove the conduct occurred.”

Cross-examination is a key component of due process and an important tool for arriving at the truth of a dispute. But under the previous administration’s Title IX guidance, university officials were discouraged from extending this right to students accused of sexual misconduct, under the theory that scrutinizing alleged victims would be traumatizing.

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