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Biden says he'll reverse DeVos rule bolstering protections for those accused of campus sexual assault
Former Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that if he's elected president, he will reverse a rule issued by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos aimed at bolstering protections for students who are accused of sexual assault on university campuses.
In a statement, Biden said the new rule was an effort by the Trump administration to "shame and silence" survivors of sexual assault.
"It's wrong," Biden said. "And, it will be put to a quick end in January 2021, because as president, I'll be right where I always have been throughout my career - on the side of survivors, who deserve to have their voices heard, their claims taken seriously and investigated, and their rights upheld."
The new rule issued Wednesday narrows the definition of sexual harassment and requires schools to produce evidence and allow for the cross-examination of students who say they were assaulted.
The rule is meant to ensure that those accused of sexual assault receive due process.
"Too many students have lost access to their education because their school inadequately responded when a student filed a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual assault," DeVos said in a statement. "This new regulation requires schools to act in meaningful ways to support survivors of sexual misconduct, without sacrificing important safeguards to ensure a fair and transparent process. We can and must continue to fight sexual misconduct in our nation's schools, and this rule makes certain that fight continues."
The Trump administration and many conservatives believe that the Title IX rule changes implemented under the Obama-Biden administration robbed students of due process through unregulated campus tribunals that resulted in scores of lawsuits from the accused.
Critics of the Obama administration rule said the accused operated under an assumption of guilt and were denied basic rights, such as the ability to question the evidence against them or question their accusers.
The Trump campaign gathered a roundup of criticism of Biden's support for strengthening Title IX regulations in favor of survivors from prominent public intellectuals, such as Andrew Sullivan, Emily Yoffe and Bret Stephens.
The Trump campaign said that Biden is trying to hold students to a different standard than himself. Biden last week denied allegations of sexual assault made by Tara Reade, a former staffer in his Senate office in the early 1990s.
"Before Tara Reade's assault accusations, Biden was unwavering in a presumption of guilt for the accused including Brett Kavanaugh," said Erin Perrine, Principal Deputy Communications Director for the Trump Campaign. "That presumption of guilt included the disastrous Title IX regulations under the Obama-Biden administration, making it more difficult on college campuses for the accused to receive a fair hearing and their due process rights. Does Joe still stand by his presumption of guilt for the accused - or has he set a new standard for himself in the face of his own sexual assault accusations from a former staffer?"
Biden said the DeVos rule "gives colleges a green light to ignore sexual violence" on campuses and would "strip survivors of their rights."
"It lets colleges off the hook for protecting students, by permitting them to choose to investigate only more extreme acts of violence and harassment and requiring them to investigate in a way that dissuades survivors from coming forward," Biden said.
"Survivors deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced. Today, Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump published a rule that flies in the face of that belief and guarantees that college campuses will be less safe for our nation's young people," he added.