DeVos's proposal to change campus sexual assault guidelines draws over 100,000 responses

DeVos's proposal to change campus sexual assault guidelines draws over 100,000 responses

Education Department Secretary Betsy Devos’s proposal to change guidelines on how universities handle sexual assault and misconduct drew more than 100,000 messages during the public comment period.

DeVos first proposed rewriting the guidelines in 2017, sparking pushback from assault survivors and activists who said the proposed rules would bolster the rights of the accused at the expense of survivors.

The public had 60 days to weigh in on the proposed overhaul, with the Federal Register recording roughly 103,000 letters and messages at the comment period's end on Wednesday, according to NBC News.


Terry Hartle of the American Council on Education, which represents and lobbies for higher education institutions, told The Washington Post that the number of submissions is roughly 20 times that of the number normally received for a major regulatory proposal.

“This is the most controversial regulatory undertaking in the history of the Department of Education,” Hartle told the Post.

The proposal would change how sexual assault is defined, narrowing the "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” that was defined under the Obama-era guidelines known as Title IX.

The rules would also require allegations be reported to school officials who have authority to take “corrective action,” such as a Title IX coordinator.

Most of the comments were reportedly in opposition to the changes, according to NBC, including some which came from sexual assault survivors.

Education Department officials could take six months to sift through the tens of thousands of comments before taking any action on the guidelines, Joe Cohn, the legislative and policy director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, told NBC News.

Two Democratic senators called on DeVos late last year to rescind guidelines.

Sens. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayPelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive House approves two child care bills aimed at pandemic GOP, Democratic relief packages B apart on vaccine funding MORE (Wash.) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanHillicon Valley: Feds warn hackers targeting critical infrastructure | Twitter exploring subscription service | Bill would give DHS cyber agency subpoena power Senate-passed defense spending bill includes clause giving DHS cyber agency subpoena power Lawmakers push NOAA to prevent future 'Sharpiegate' MORE (N.H.) held a press conference with survivors' groups and activists in November, urging those concerned about the guidelines to submit their input to the Education Department during the comment period.