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Trump Administration Just Made Campus Sexual Assault Guidelines More Lenient—on the Accused

You know what is not a real concern when it comes to rampant sexual assault on college campuses? That the system is stacked against the accused. That hasn’t stopped Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump’s Department of Education from rescinding President Obama-era guidelines on campus sexual assault in order to rework them to be more lenient on alleged assaulters.

That flies in the face of approximately everything we know about how sexual assault is handled on campus and in general, with victims often afraid to come forward only to have their problems compounded by a system that doesn’t believe them. So, it makes perfect sense for the Trump administration, I guess, especially after DeVos met with “Men’s Rights Activists” to talk about assault—because if anyone’s an expert on how to best to protect women from sexual assault, it’s men who think fighting for equality is oppression.

(image: NBC)

DeVos’ department is still working on new guidelines—because this move was apparently so pressing that it had to be done before those were finished—but their interim guidelines are a good hint at where things are going. According to the AP, the Obama-era guidelines, dating back to 2011, set out a less strict “preponderance of evidence” standard for universities when investigating sexual assault, whereas the new interim guidelines push for “clear and convincing evidence” for action to be taken.

Those slightly esoteric legal terms essentially allow universities to “require higher standards of evidence when handling complaints,” reports AP. In a statement, DeVos said that sexual assaults were “horrific crimes” that must not be swept under the rug, but mitigated that by saying that the new guidance will help schools “will treat all students fairly,” making it fairly clear that her priorities on campus assault are more aligned with worrying about false accusations than with actually helping assault victims.

It’s pretty clear which of those is the bigger, more pressing problem to be dealt with, and this is only moving us further away from a real improvement.

(via AP, featured image: Shutterstock)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.