Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will go down in history for doing terrible damage to public schools (“The Wreckage Betsy DeVos Leaves Behind,” The New York Times, Jan. 3). Instead of working to improve them, she stood as a bystander for their deterioration.
Yet there is one thing that DeVos deserves great credit for. In November 2018, she advanced regulatory proposals to assure the right of due process for students accused of sexual misconduct. Colleges and universities must now allow both accuser and accused the same right to choose advisers who can cross-examine witnesses. Prior to that rule, the scale was heavily weighted in favor of the accuser.
That’s no small thing in today’s Inquisition in higher education. Too many lives of innocent students have been ruined when they were unable to hire outside counsel to defend themselves.
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2 Replies to “DeVos did one good thing”
DeVos should have gone further and allowed/required colleges to get out of the business of investigating/adjudicating sexual assault entirely — that is, leave it to the police unless the allegation involves misconduct by a college employee, in which case the college has the same obligations as any employer learning of possible sexual misconduct by an employee. Society does not expect/require that bar owners, concert venues, or apartment building landlords investigate/adjudicate allegations of sexual assault by patrons, concert goers or tenants. Likewise, society should not expect/require that colleges investigate/adjudicate allegations of sexual assault by students. Colleges are not a govt and lack the govt authority/expertise/resources to do this properly so the colleges will inevitably screw it up with the result that everyone involved loses. Too many innocent defendants will be found guilty, too many guilty defendants will be found innocent, and everyone who is unhappy with a result will be suing the college.
Labor Lawyer: Totally agree with you. Off-campus police have the training and experience to handle sexual crimes. Colleges not only lack the wherewithal. but they are too sensitive to pressure from student and faculty groups in these matters.