Advocates of college men who claim their lives were destroyed by false rape claims are hoping the incoming Trump administration will change a policy they say tramples on civil rights.
Beginning in 2011, the Obama administration's U.S. Education Department began pressing colleges to more aggressively police sexual assaults. The department currently has some 216 schools under investigation, while other schools have expelled accused students on scant evidence, often with no legal recourse or due process.
“What we represent is not a popular issue, we know that,” Cynthina Garrett, co-president of Families Advocating for Campus Equality, which supports due-process rights for accused students, told FoxNews.com. “But there are so many young men whose lives have been destroyed by these allegations.”
Garrett added that she thinks the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights has gone too far and that schools are now operating out of fear rather than cooperation with the government – leading those accused of sexual assault to be found guilty even before they are judged.
Campus Sexual Assaults
- 11.2% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation (among all graduate and undergraduate students).
- Among graduate and professional students, 8.8% of females and 2.2% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
- Among undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
- 4.2% of students have experienced stalking since entering college.
*Information from RAINN.org
What President-elect Trump plans to do, however, is unclear as he rarely mentioned education while on the stump and even less frequently talked about civil rights in schools. Trump’s biggest qualm with the Department of Education – as with many other federal agencies – was to say that it “is massive and it can be largely eliminated.”
Trump’s pick for education secretary, billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos, has also not broached the issue of sexual assault on college campuses or commented on the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX.
Title IX is a law enacted in 1972 that prohibits any educational program or activity that receives federal financial assistance from denying benefits to or discriminating against someone based on their sex. The OCR sent a letter to schools in April 2011 that made sexual assault a form harassment prohibited by Title IX.
“Trump and DeVos’ biggest priority seems to be school and not Title IX,” Garret said.
President-elect Trump’s transition team did not immediately replay to FoxNews.com’s request for comment.
The Obama administration’s moves helped fuel a surge of sexual complaints on campuses across the country. In May 2014, the government published the names of 55 colleges and universities under investigation in connection with sexual violence and since then that number has jumped to 216.
“From a purely public relations standpoint, we would rather not be on the list,” The College of William and Mary spokesman Brian Whitson told the Washington Post. “But we’re not looking at this from a public relations perspective. . . .This is an issue we are very focused on. When it comes to response and education related to sexual violence, we spend a lot of time considering what we do and why we do it. We didn’t ask for this review, but we do expect to learn something along the way.”
Since the Obama administration’s crack down on schools, a number of students who have been found guilty by their colleges of sexual assault have filed lawsuits alleging their due process rights and Title IX were violated during the investigation and ruling of the cases.
“We have hundreds of years of history suggesting that the ability to cross-examine and confront your accuser is essential to having a fair and accurate process." Joshua Engel, the attorney for a University of Cincinnati graduate student accused of sexual assault, told the Cincinnati Enquirer earlier this year.
Groups representing victims of campus sexual assaults say that nobody would benefit from a rollback on policies because schools would be held even less accountable for their investigations into accusations.
“I get where they are coming from,” Anna Voremberg, the managing director of End Rape On Campus, told FoxNews.com. “But we’re on the same side.”
Voremberg added: “The only way to get a true ruling is to have a fair and equitable process for both parties…a dialing back of Title IX would not do that.”