House Republicans proposed changes to the Higher Education Act last week that would prevent parents, students, and taxpayers from understanding how much sexual violence occurs at colleges – a move that could have a devastating impact on victims of sexual assault, advocates say.
“You have millions of women, from college students to movie stars to hotel maids, coming forward and sharing their stories of assault and abuse and millions of ordinary Americans are standing with them and now the Republicans want to sneak through, in a 542-page bill, protections for rapists and perpetrators,” said Michele Landis Dauber, a professor of law and an outspoken critic of universities’ mishandling of campus sexual assault investigations.
“Title IX is designed to protect children from sexual predators in schools and colleges and the fact that the Republican party wants to leave our kids exposed to sexual predators shows how out of touch with the values of ordinary Americans they really are,” Landis Dauber told ThinkProgress.
The provisions would allow colleges to halt investigations on sexual assault while police conduct a criminal inquiry and dilute the effectiveness of campus climate surveys that help students understand how dangerous their campus is.
The Stanford campus community has been assessing whether the university is spreading misleading campus sexual assault and harassment data.
Under the interim guidance DeVos introduced in September, colleges have the choice of two burden of proof standards when deciding whether someone committed sexual misconduct – a preponderance of the evidence standard, which means that it’s more likely than not that the accused is responsible for sexual assault, or a clear and convincing evidence standard.