Survey of Responses to DeVos’s Proposals on Title IX


Writing for the New York Times, Anna Dubenko has gathered reactions from the Left, Right, and Center to Betsy DeVos’ proposal to revamp Title IX enforcement.

From the Right

David French in the National Review: “Our campuses are not exempt from the Constitution. There is no excuse for government-mandated kangaroo courts in any part of American life, especially in America’s institutions of higher learning.”

Mr. French believes that critics of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s plan to reform Title IX procedures for cases of sexual assault on college campuses “believe and propagate a pile of junk science seasoned with a heaping helping of far-left ideology.” He questions the statistics most often cited by “true campus ideologue” activists that “come unglued at the mere mention of ‘due process.’”


Ashe Schow in the Federalist: “If today’s activists think due process is so terrible, what would stop them from working to remove it from our courts?”

Ms. DeVos hopes to establish a firmer definition of sexual assault, which Ms. Schow hopes will stop the trend “creating victims out of students who aren’t actually victims.” Due process can never be an impediment to justice, Ms. Schow writes, and “removal of due process” might have impact beyond college campuses.


Karol Markowicz in the New York Post: “In a few cases, the accused may actually be guilty—but gets off because his rights were violated by his school. Why even have schools get involved in criminal matters in the first place?”

Ms. Markowicz defends the reforms to Title IX introduced by Ms. DeVos by condemning the “utterly unfair procedures” common under the Obama-era system. Under the previous system, she writes, “‘defendants’ don’t get lawyers. Due process, of the sort we’re used to in real courts, is tossed by the wayside.” She concludes her column by noting that “we wouldn’t allow women to be treated this way.”


From the Left

Lucia Graves in the Guardian: “The sexually accused are overwhelmingly male, overwhelmingly white (57 percent, according to RAINN), and presumably, entitled. In other words, they are Trump’s core constituency to a T.”

According to Ms. Graves, it all comes down to the fact that Ms. DeVos “is simply defending the people she and her boss have always been most interested in defending,” white men “who’d grown used to having the world at their feet.”


Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post: “The proof will be in the details of what the Trump administration produces. Still, you don’t have to be a DeVos-like conservative to have serious qualms about the existing approach—and to bristle at the dismissal of such concerns.”

“There is every reason not to trust” Ms. DeVos and the Trump administration when it comes to policing sexual assault on college campuses, writes Ms. Marcus. However, she still finds herself praising—“albeit tentatively and preliminarily”—the education secretary’s attempt to address the “seriously flawed” way in which colleges handled assault investigations, an “overcorrection” in response to the Obama administration’s attempts to get colleges to “take sexual assault allegations seriously.”


Christina Cauterucci in Slate: “The chilling effect the DeVos Department of Education will have on sexual assault reports will certainly please Trump. But his larger goal is to send a message to women that the government is not on their side.”

Ms. Cauterucci argues that many of President Trump’s policies require “pretty impressive feats of intellectual dissonance. Police officers should rough up the suspects they arrest, but universities should go easy on accused rapists.” The only thread connecting these seemingly contradictory policy priorities, including the most recent Title IX decision, is that of identity, “his identity as a white man and his desire to protect the same.”


And finally, from the Center:

Emily Yoffe in the Atlantic: “On too many campuses, a new attitude about due process — and the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty—has taken hold.”

Many of the writers featured in this roundup have cited Ms. Yoffe’s reporting on how the rules adjudicating college sexual assault have changed in recent years. The first installment of this three-part series addresses how students accused of assault lose their due-process rights when universities handle cases in accordance to Obama-era federal rules. “These directives,” she writes, “have left a mess of a system, and many unintended consequences.”


Christina Hoff Sommers in the Chronicle of Higher Education: “Due process does not guarantee justice, but without it injustice is nearly certain.”

Ms. Sommers, who is best described as a classical liberal feminist, had little optimism for how Republicans would handle women’s issues. “I used to wonder what was worse,” she writes, “Republican politicians ignoring women’s issues or Republican politicians talking about them.” However, Ms. Sommers lauds Ms. DeVos’s “openness” and “fair and transparent procedure” in reforming Title IX procedures in cases of sexual assault. Perhaps, she writes, it will signal “a rare occasion for bipartisan cooperation.”


The editorial board of the Dallas Morning News: “Even when we strip away the politics, the content of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s message Thursday about sexual violence on college campuses leaves us queasy.”

As skeptics that victims of sexual assault “will be as fairly treated” as they were under Obama-era Title IX protections, the members of the Dallas Morning News editorial board also “welcome a constructive conversation about unintended consequences or confusion resulting from the 2011 guidelines.” The only thing that gives the group temporary comfort is that “nothing changes today.” The rules remain in place during a notice-and-comment period.


2 thoughts on “Survey of Responses to DeVos’s Proposals on Title IX

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