George Leef’s latest Martin Center column addresses U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ approach to the controversial Title IX.
It is very rare for a federal agency to admit having made a mistake and rarer still for the secretary of a cabinet department to announce a U-turn in policy in a heavily publicized speech. But that is exactly what Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos did on September 7.
Speaking at George Mason University, Secretary DeVos went straight after the most contentious element of the Obama Administration’s higher education policy, namely its interpretation of Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972. The language of the statute was twisted by bureaucratic fiat (a “Dear Colleague” letter) from prohibiting discrimination based on sex into a crusade against any conduct by a school, a student, or a faculty member that might be deemed sexual harassment.
Under the Obama administration’s “guidance” (which was of very doubtful legality since requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) were ignored), colleges and universities were expected to adopt highly one-sided procedures for handling all allegations of sexual misconduct—procedures that were designed to produce the largest number of accusations and punishments possible.
In Secretary DeVos’ words, the Education Department “weaponized” Title IX and compliant college bureaucracies against anyone who was accused of anything from rape to merely speaking impolitely to women. …
… In its politically motivated zeal to deal with the alleged “campus rape culture,” the Department went far beyond law and reason and Secretary DeVos is determined to restore fairness and the rule of law.