by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Leef’s latest Martin Center column assesses the potential impact of new federal Title IX rules on college campuses.
Early in her tenure as secretary of education under president Trump, Betsy DeVos suspended the Obama regulations and began the process of revising them in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act. On May 5, the new rules were released and the reaction was strongly divided.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a non-partisan group that defends free speech and due process for students and faculty, applauded the changes. In an op-ed piece for The Wall Street Journal, FIRE’s executive director (and also a member of the Martin Center’s board) called the revisions “a victory for campus justice,” observing that “More than 40 percent of top colleges don’t even specify that their equivalents of judges and juries must be impartial. This madness will end when the rules take effect.”
Similarly, the American Enterprise Institute’s director of education policy studies, Frederick Hess, wrote “DeVos gets Title IX right,” pointing out, among other sensible changes, that the new rules are even-handed with respect to appeal. Under the Obama rules, the accuser had a right of appeal if the decision went against her, but the accused was afforded no such right.
One of the most salient changes is that colleges are no longer expected to use a single investigator model for handling Title IX complaints.
Under the Obama regulations, schools were pressured to have one campus administrator (usually trained to favor the accuser) deal with the whole case, from fact-finding to determination of guilt. With the new rules, schools must use a three-person system—one officer to receive complaints, another to interview people and gather facts, and a third to decide the question of guilt and recommend sanctions and remedies. …
… If the new rules are followed, they will protect colleges against lawsuits such as Doe v. Colgate. They’d no longer be held liable for violating the due process rights of accused students.