Special Reports

Universities Urge Education Secretary Betsy DeVos To Improve Title IX


Republican supporter Betsy DeVos has just been confirmed as Education Secretary last week. This came after the proposal got a 51-50 vote in favor of the Michigan philanthropist, with Vice-President Mike Pence having to cast a tie-breaking vote.

It was previously reported that Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has expressed her concerns about Betsy DeVos especially with the fact that she has been such a supporter of charter schools and vouchers and might be unaware of how to handle the issues in public schools. For higher education, problems with for-profit colleges, tuition fees and Title IX are expected to arise during her period as Education Secretary.

Some universities have issued statements after her confirmation. A lot of people are hoping that, regardless of DeVos' lack of experience in public education, she may bring about a positive change in the department.

The Stanford Review, a publication run by students from the university, urged Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to "restore justice to Title IX." It was stated that, while the preponderance of the evidence imposed by the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) was seen as a "step forward," it has actually failed.

It was noted that investigations on sexual assaults on campus "usually fail to secure both relief for victims and civil liberties for the accused." The publication implored Betsy DeVos to raise the standard of proof for sexual assault cases.

The Harvard Crimson also expressed their sincerest hope that the current Education Secretary will succeed. However, they also admitted that they are concerned about the policies that Betsy DeVos may implement.

They are particularly worried about DeVos' stance on Title IX. Washington Post reported that she has stated her desire to shift from the Obama administration's commitment to fighting sexual assault on campus.

According to The Hill, West Virginia University president E. Gordon Gee also noted that DeVos did not offer specific recommendations on how to address sexual assault on campus. He believes that the most effective way to solve this issue is to treat students as adults and engage them to find solutions for recognizing and intervening in situations assault as well as to create an environment where assault is "wholly unacceptable."

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