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Campus sexual assault researchers: Focus on due process comes at victims' expense

Two women side by side
Mercedes Mejia
"Truthfully, I think that her recent guidance is just going to inspire tremendous confusion among colleges and universities,” Ph.D students said of DeVos' proposed policy changes";

Last Friday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos replaced the Obama-era guidance on campus sexual assault with an interim rule that, she says, gives greater consideration to the due process rights of the accused.

She called on schools to confront sexual assault and behaviors "head-on" while keeping the process "fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes."

On Wednesday, Stateside spoke with civil rights attorney Deborah Gordon, who has represented men accused of sexual assault.

Today, Miriam Gleckman-Krut and Nicole Bedera, two Ph.D candidates in sociology at the University of Michigan and campus sexual violence researchers, joined Stateside to provide a different view on campus sexual assault.

While DeVos is concerned with an alleged lack of due process for those accused of sexual assault, Gleckman-Krut and Bedera disagree.

“This idea that the accused lack any rights seems rare that that’s happening on college campuses, to say the least,” Gleckman-Krut said.

DeVos claims that those accused do not have a chance to question their accuser, as might happen with a case of a different nature. Gleckman-Krut and Bedera don’t uniformly see this happening, however.

“What a lot of schools have switched to is allowing people who have been accused to submit their questions in writing and then they’ll be asked by a third party, but they can still often by present when that takes place,” Bedera said.

“I think there’s something to be said that there are parts of the process that could be made more clear from the Obama-era guidance,” Bedera said, “But those have been entirely eliminated, so we’re actually starting over at square one all over again.”

Listen above for the full conversation.

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