Immediate Release
April 9, 2020

INDEPENDENT WOMEN’S LAW CENTER  and SPEECH FIRST Call on Department of Education Not to Use COVID-19 Crisis as an Excuse to Delay Due Process Rights of Students

WASHINGTON, D.C – Independent Women’s Law Center joined Speech First on Wednesday in calling on the Department of Education to issue long-awaited regulations that formalize the obligations of schools to investigate claims of sexual assault and harassment on campus and clarify the rights of all students. 

As Independent Women’s Law Center Director, Jennifer Braceras explained: 

“This clarity is sorely needed. 

“Years ago, colleges and universities showed little interest in dealing with campus sexual misconduct, but now the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. 

“Today, campus sexual misconduct bureaucracies investigate all manners of student behavior, from racy jokes to drunken couplings to forcible rape.  

Often, they employ Inquisition-like investigatory procedures that stack the deck against the accused by eliminating the presumption of innocence and denying students any meaningful opportunity to defend themselves.”   

Since 2017, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has attempted to restore balance to the system and clarify the legal obligations of schools and the rights of all students under Title IX. 

In November 2018, the Department proposed new rules to the Federal Register for notice and comment. On March 27, the Office of Management and Budget completed its months-long review of the proposed regulations.

Despite this lengthy review, several Senators and special interests groups recently wrote to the Department, urging it to hold off on issuing these much needed reforms because of the coronavirus. 

 “Activists who are trying to weaponize our current national crisis to deny students due process should be ashamed of themselves,” said Braceras.

President of Speech First Nicole Neily added, “Students who are currently caught up in Title IX adjudications should not be forced to wait any longer for clarity on their cases. Indeed, all stakeholders in America’s institutions of higher education—from students and parents to faculty and administrators —deserve a just system, and they deserve it now.”

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has created much uncertainty in the education community, the Department can provide clarity with respect to Title IX by issuing the regulations as soon as possible.

Read the full letter HERE

Read more about Title IX and due process on campus HERE.