MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos spoke strong words Friday against the way college campuses have handled sexual assault allegations in the past.
She says President Donald Trump’s administration will better protect both the victims and the accused.
“The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students,” DeVos said.
A 2011 letter from the U.S. Department of Education urged colleges to crack down on sexual assaults or lose out on federal funding.
But critics say universities overstepped their bounds and forced too many students from school without due process.
Twin Cities Attorney Beau McGraw called this a welcomed move, as he tries to get the lives of more than a dozen Minnesota college students back on track.
“I think she’s properly concluded that the way these cases are being handled on campus is not working for anybody,” McGraw said.
His law firm first made headlines more than a year ago when they represented a University of St. Thomas student who was never criminally charged for a sex encounter in a dorm room.
But that student was suspend from school for more than a year.
“There’s no uniformity to it,” McGraw said.
His lawsuit against St. Thomas is moving through federal court. McGraw says the case is just the beginning of what was to come.
“I’ve been involved in 15 different cases in my office regarding alleged sexual misconduct on campuses,” he said.
McGraw says no charges were brought in any of them.
From public to private, he has seen similar stories at all colleges.
Two of his clients are even alleged female victims, also frustrated at how their cases were handled.
“You’ve got administrators on campus that have had some level of training, but they’re not law enforcement officers,” McGraw said.
As for what’s next, McGraw believes it’s best to leave it up to the criminal justice system already in place, believing police departments and civil remedies go far enough.
“There is nothing that would even need to be done on a college campus if we just allowed the court system to work the way the court system is supposed to work,” McGraw said.
DeVos says she will solicit public comment before announcing new rules.
Faculty members at Harvard Law School have made some proposals.
The education secretary says she is also up to using those as well in order to restore fairness and due process.