The attorneys general of 20 states, including Minnesota, expressed “serious concern” Wednesday that the Department of Education is preparing to weaken rules designed to crack down on campus sexual assault.
“As attorneys general, we see the impact campus sexual assault has on survivors,” they wrote in a joint letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The letter, co-signed by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, warned that rolling back protections for victims of campus sexual assault would send “precisely the wrong message to all students.”
DeVos reportedly is considering changing the rules, which govern how colleges must respond to sex-assault complaints, in response to concerns that accused students are being punished without due process.
In Wednesday’s letter, the attorneys general acknowledge that “there is a great deal more that can be done to protect students” and ensure that “the investigations are conducted fairly.” But they warned against what they called “a rushed, poorly-considered effort to roll back current policies.”
The current rules, which were issued by the Obama administration in 2011, require colleges to use a lower level of proof, known as preponderance of evidence, than the judicial system in determining guilt or innocence.