Betsy DeVos proposes new sexual assault and misconduct rules

The changes will give the accused more protections, narrow the definition of harassment and limit guidelines to events on campus.

by Nikki Pederson

The U.S. Education Department released a proposal Friday that would narrow the definition of sexual harassment and misconduct on college campuses and give the accused more protection. 

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed a plan that would only require schools to investigate sexual assault and misconduct if it was reported to certain campus officials and if it occurred on property owned or overseen by the school. 

This proposal would replace guidelines created under the Obama administration, which DeVos scrapped last year. It also aims to give protections to students accused of sexual misconduct by allowing them to indirectly cross-examine the accusers. While the previous guidelines did not forbid cross-examination, it was discouraged. 

The changes to Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and public schools, also narrow the definitions of sexual harassment, meaning that Title IX is only infringed when unwelcome conduct is “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access,” according to the plan.

The University of Minnesota’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action said that they are reviewing the proposal although it will likely go through changes during the public comment period before implementation, according to a statement sent to the Minnesota Daily. 

DeVos released a draft of the proposal in September, which left some students feeling uncertain of how new regulations would affect University sexual assault policies. 

This is a breaking news report. More information will be added as it becomes available.