Cathy Young is a contributing editor to Reason magazine.
This summer, the news that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was looking into Obama administration policies on campus sexual assault caused an uproar — particularly after DeVos included advocates for the falsely accused in her “listening meetings.”
Last week, DeVos’ speech on the issue was met with hostility even before it was delivered Thursday at George Mason University in Virginia. Her detractors are accusing her of attacking rape victims and seeking to roll back protections for women. But in fact, the speech was almost certainly the best thing to come out of the Trump administration so far. It was well-reasoned, well-grounded in facts, sensitive, and it struck the right balance between concern for victims and concern for the accused. The only question is how much of it can be channeled into action.
On a policy level, DeVos praised the Obama administration for listening to survivors and bringing the issue into the spotlight, but also criticized its heavy-handed approach of pressuring colleges and universities to get tough on sexual misconduct without proper regard for the rights of the accused. Under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in…
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