Trump Administration To Release Rules On How Campuses Will Handle Sexual Assault Investigations

The U.S. Department of Education is set to announce new rules that will dramatically change how universities and colleges will address allegations of sexual assault and harassment on campuses. The most significant change will be the right for the accused to cross-examine their accusers, according to the Washington Post.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will release it before Thanksgiving, and even as early as this week, The Post reports. The rules will limit liability for universities and allow them to use a higher standard in assessing sexual assault and harassment claims. 

The new proposal would reverse the Obama administration’s Title IX guidelines. It limited the interaction between accusers and the accused during the investigation process of a sexual assault case. The guidelines did not include cross examinations, but the new rules will allow it in a controlled setting. 

According to The Post, only the lawyers of the accused would conduct the cross examination, and accusers can ask to be cross examined in a separate room from the accused. The Post also reports that accuser’s won’t be asked about their sexual history. 

Another change includes the ability of both sides to appeal rulings — and not just the accused. Universities will also have more freedom in providing services to victims, including schedule changes and housing reassignments. Those two aspects were a major request from survivor groups, The Post reports. 

DeVos has frequently expressed her disapproval of the 2011 Obama guidelines. Last year, she revoked it saying it favored the accusers. A version of the rules was leaked in September. According to The Post, only a few items changed from that version. 

Schools will still be allowed to decide between “preponderance of the evidence” and “clear and convincing” evidence when assessing claims under the new rules. 

Universities and colleges have received backlash over its response to allegations of sexual assault and harassment on campus. Many critics fear the new rules will discourage victims from coming forward or that their claims will be still ignored. Some college institutions thought that the Obama guidelines were too broad and confusing, and now these new rules will give a clear basis on how to handle allegations, according to The Post.