April 3, 2019
Press Contact: [email protected]
IWF CALLS ON CONGRESS TO CLARIFY FEDERAL LAW ON CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT
Calls on all educational institutions to adopt fair and equitable procedures for handling claims of sexual misconduct
Washington, DC — Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) applauds the U.S. Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions for taking the first step toward clarifying federal law on campus sexual assault.
As an organization dedicated to expanding women’s freedom, choices, and opportunities, IWF takes seriously any and all allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse. And as an organization committed to fairness and due process, IWF understands that allegations of sexual misconduct must be evaluated on the basis of the evidence and on the credibility of the witnesses.
That is why IWF is so pleased to see that the Senate is taking steps to address confusion surrounding current law.
At a hearing on Tuesday, April 2, entitled “Addressing Campus Sexual Assault and Ensuring Student Safety and Rights,” Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander highlighted the often conflicting legal obligations that colleges and universities face when it comes to campus assault. Sen. Alexander expressed hope that Congress can clarify the law this year as part a comprehensive reauthorization the Higher Education Act.
Yesterday’s hearing comes seven months after Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos repealed Obama-era guidelines, adopted without valid legal authority and without public notice and comment, that led many schools to develop procedures that severely curtailed due process for the accused.
In November 2018, Secretary DeVos unveiled new draft regulations that aim to restore fairness and balance to in sexual misconduct tribunals on campus.
The draft regulations are a significant improvement over the previous guidance because they take seriously the rights of both the accuser and the accused and define sexual harassment in accordance with Supreme Court precedent.
IWF asserts, however, that the Department lacks the legal authority to specify campus disciplinary procedures under Title IX, the law that prohibits educational institutions that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of sex.
IWF calls on Congress to:
- clarify that Title IX requires covered schools to treat claims of sexual misconduct by female and male students equally;
- clarify that Title IX creates an affirmative obligation to address misconduct that might impede the ability of one sex to receive an equal education and explain the contours of that obligation;
- make clear that Title IX is not a federal disciplinary code and does not regulate the precise manner in which schools conduct misconduct proceedings; and
- reconcile Title IX with the provisions of the Clery Act that deal with campus sexual assault.
IWF also calls on all educational institutions to adopt fair and equitable procedures that take seriously the claims of victims while respecting the due process rights of the accused.
Independent Women's Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.