DeVos Dodges Questions On Guidelines To Combat Campus Sexual Assault

Bill Clark/CQPHO

Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of education, avoided questions Tuesday evening about whether she would uphold the current guidelines and standard of evidence used to combat sexual assault on college campuses if confirmed to the position.

“Would you agree with me that the problem, and that’s an understatement in my judgment, but the problem of sexual assault on college campuses is a significant problem that we should take action on?” Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) asked DeVos during her confirmation hearing.

“I agree with you that sexual assault in any form or in any place is a problem and no disagreement there,” DeVos replied.

“Would you uphold that 2011 Title IX guidance as it relates to sexual assault on campus?” Casey asked.

“I know that there’s a lot of conflicting ideas and opinions around that guidance,” DeVos said. “If confirmed, I would look forward to working with you and your colleagues and understand the range of opinions and understand the issues from the higher ed institutions that are charged with resolving these and addressing them and I would look forward to working together to find some resolutions.”

“I agree with the guidance, so I’m just asking for a yes or no,” Casey pressed.

“It would be premature for me to do that today,” DeVos replied.

“We have a long way to go to addressing this problem. We took some good action on this issue, as part of the Violence Against Women Act,” Casey said.

“There’s an organization called the Foundation for Individual Rights and Education. They support a bill that would totally change that. They would force a victim to go to police departments to report and they would change the standard of evidence,” he continued. “Would you commit, as secretary of education, to retaining the standard of evidence that is currently the law?”

“If confirmed, I look forward to understanding the past actions and the current situation better and to ensuring that the intent of the law is actually carried out in a way that recognizes both the victim, the rights of the victims, as well as those who are accused as well and that the institutions—” DeVos began.

“I’m out of time,” Casey interrupted. “The organization that has that position, which is contrary to the law, current law, and contrary to the spirit of what we try to do in that piece of legislation, is the recipient of donations from you totaling about 25,000 bucks over four years.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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