Colorado University officials are worried that the new guidelines issued by United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos could make it tougher for sex assault victims to pursue justice from their attackers.
Spokeswoman for Colorado University, Ms Dell Rae Ciaravola: “Colorado State University is dedicated to addressing sexual misconduct and interpersonal violence on our campuses. This commitment is not driven by federal administrative positions or shifts in those positions over time. We are confident our approach strikes the appropriate balance, assures (federal) compliance, and protects the rights of all parties.”
Many schools in the area are worried by a decision made under the auspices of the Department of Education to scrap former guidelines on investigating sexual assaults on campus, and think this will leave students afraid and vulnerable to report any attacks.
According to school officials, those guidelines, issued in 2011 by the administration of then President Barack Obama, were friendlier towards alleged victims as schools used a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, choosing the side of the victim in most cases.
Of course, given the Harvey Weinstein scandal which has topped national headlines over the past month, any issue regarding sexual assaults and harassment is gaining greater attention. Furthermore, the “#MeToo” movement, prompting students on campus to speak out about possible harassment, puts heightened focus on any change to these guidelines.
Miss Kendall Fowler, who was raped her during her freshman year in October 2015, claims the former guidelines really helped the investigation into her complaint about a classmate at the University of Denver. She says: “Looking back on my experience, I believe that more measures need to be put in place through the process, not anything rolled back.”
Meanwhile, Education Secretary Ms Betsy DeVos explains that the Obama-era guidelines were unfairly skewed against those accused and made the Education Department “work against schools and against students.”
Current statistics show that the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights is investigating 360 sexual violence cases in the United States.