Duran & Winter: DeVos’ Proposed Campus Assault Guidelines Misguided

Legislators Point to 2018 Bill to Address Sexual Misconduct in Higher Education

(Aug. 30) – According to a report from the New York Times, Secretary Betsy DeVos and the federal Department of Education will release new guidance regarding campus sexual assault and misconduct under Title IX that would make it harder for victims to achieve justice and more difficult to hold institutions accountable for mishandling complaints.

During the 2018 legislative session, the House passed Speaker Crisanta Duran and Rep. Faith Winter’s bill setting state-level standards for institutions of higher education to ensure student safety on campus. The bill came in response to the Trump administration’s decision to rescind Obama-era guidelines setting high standards for preventing misconduct and addressing it when it occurred. In response to the Times report, Speaker Duran and Rep. Winter released the following statement:

“This is an alarming development as students at colleges across our state kick off their academic year,” said Speaker Duran, D-Denver. “Here in Colorado, we offered a comprehensive solution to ensure that incidents of sexual misconduct and assault on college campuses would be addressed promptly, and that there was a fair and just process for everyone involved. The Trump administration should focus on improving campus safety, not scaling it back.”

Studies show that approximately 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during their college years, and many more are sexually harassed. Many incidents go unreported.

“Secretary DeVos and the Trump administration continue to push backwards policies that will have lasting effects on the safety and security of students across our state,” said Rep. Winter, D-Westminster. “This proposal takes us in the wrong direction. The bill we brought forward would have helped victims, ensured fairness for all parties involved, and established a consistent response to sexual harassment and assault at our institutions of higher education.”

In partnership with the institutions, HB18-1391 would have established a fair and consistent response to sexual misconduct in higher education settings. The bill passed the House and failed in the Republican-led Senate.

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