Changes to campus sexual assault guidelines are questionable

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has promised to restore due process in cases of campus sexual assault and harassment.  This change will provide those accused of such behaviors with more rights.  However, DeVos says she will keep the safeguards provided for the victims that were detailed in the Obama Administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter.  Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has promised to restore due process in cases of campus sexual assault and harassment.  This change will provide those accused of such behaviors with more rights.  However, DeVos says she will keep the safeguards provided for the victims that were detailed in the Obama Administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter.

High school and college provides many opportunities for teenagers and young adults to experience a sexual awakening and explore their sexual preferences.  This means that teenagers and young adults are going to be having sex; some may be consensual and some may, unfortunately, be forced.

DeVos’s proposed change makes sense, from a logical perspective.  Giving the accused a fair trial is right and ensures that nobody will be wrongly punished and criminalized for a crime they did not commit.

Sometimes — whether for attention or revenge or pure pettiness — people lie about being sexually assaulted.  In the case that a person falsely accuses someone of rape or sexual harassment, DeVos’s restoration of due process for the accused can prove to be very helpful.  Although Obama’s policy included due process for the accused, it placed protections for victims above this right, and in practice due process may not have actually been awarded.

However, in other ways, Obama’s policy is the best to protect those in sexual assault and harassment pages.

In the case that sex is nonconsensual — rape — very serious measures should be taken into action.  Having the victim protected from the accused is very important for the psychological and emotional health of the victim.  Keeping Obama’s policy that completely protects the victims and doesn’t allow the accused to question the accuser in person ensures that the accusation will be taken seriously and limits the victims’ trauma.

Due process is a right given in the Constitution to those who are accused of a crime to ensure that they are not restricted in their rights to life, liberty and property for a crime of which they are not guilty.

Obama’s assurance that the accused should not question their accuser does not limit due process or the rights of the accused.  The accused can still have a fair trial, even if they are not the ones allowed to question their accuser; they can still present their case that questions the accuser’s case, as long as they are not the ones asking the questions to the accuser (as that could be traumatic for victims), and therefore their rights are not being limited.

In practice, Obama’s policy may not have allowed anyone to question the accusation and therefore did not allow due process.  As long as due process is included in practice, Obama’s policy protects the accused as well as the accuser.

DeVos’ change will likely lengthen the trials for sexual assault and harassment, which may lead to fewer students willing to come forward with these cases.

No matter the policy, someone loses.

With Obama’s policy, the accused is the one who loses.  They, in practice, get fewer rights in regards to the accusation and questioning the accuser.  The victim, however, is protected by the “Colleague” letter and is taken more seriously.

With DeVos’s policy, the victim or accuser is the one who loses.  Although DeVos’s policy will adjust Obama’s policy by keeping victim protections while allowing the accused more rights in his or her trial, it might not play out fairly in practice.

In reality, it may very well cause a setback in how rape is addressed and how women and men who claim they have been sexually assaulted are treated in campus rooms.