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DeVos revisiting campus sex assault guidelines

Posted at 6:46 PM, Sep 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-08 18:46:33-04

Sharon Nolan-Weiss is the Title IX Coordinator at the University at Buffalo. UB is one of the many universities nationwide that falls under the national guidelines of how to handle campus sexual assault allegations.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is revisiting those guidelines. For now, she wants to open a discussion with victims and those who were accused about the current system to see where it can be changed. Nolan-Weiss hopes these conversations also include the universities themselves.

"We want to get this right," Nolan-Weiss said. "I think what she's doing is saying let's take a timeout, and let's hear from everybody what the process should be."

Nolan-Weiss worries, however, that this step could lead to massive changes down the road. Those changes could include increasing the burden of proof in sexual assault allegations - raising the standard of certainty.

Right now, that standard is at "50.1%" certainty; if there's more certainty than doubt, then the accused is punished by the university. However, Education Secretary DeVos has proposed raising that standard to make victims provide "clear and convincing evidence," or "75%" certainty.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, an outspoken figure on the issue of sexual assault, thinks this would be a step back.

"You don't require proof beyond the reasonable doubt if someone cheated on an exam," Vice President Biden said. "And that's why preponderance of the evidence is the appropriate measure."