Title IX changes likely ease concerns for medical schools
The Trump administration on Friday revoked Title IX mandates that would strip federal funding from colleges and universities if they failed to set strict policies on how they handled sexual assault cases on campus.
In a letter to colleges and universities, officials with the U.S. Department of Education wrote that schools now needed to find a higher burden of proof against those accused of sexual assault.
The U.S. Department of Education said mandates imposed during the Obama era were burdensome and unfair to the accused. Many legal experts agreed.
The more lax rules were welcomed by hospitals with residency programs and medical schools that struggled to comply with the previous regulations.
In 2011, the Obama administration amended Title IX in an effort to encourage more victims to come forward to report cases of sexual assault. The administration said schools should evaluate sexual assault cases using a "preponderance of evidence," or just 50% of the evidence needed to support the victim's claims. If institutions were found to be non-compliant with the standards, federal funding could be stripped away.
"There will be no more sweeping (cases of sexual assault) under the rug. But the process must be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes," said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in a statement.
The regulations "scared a lot of schools," said Robin Fretwell Wilson, a law professor at the University of Illinois.
About 145 medical schools in the U.S., which rely heavily on federal funding, must comply with Title IX. The schools enroll roughly 88,000 medical students and 124,000 resident physicians.
Most schools had to spend money to comply with the Obama administration's Title IX rules.
Schools were told to handle investigations separate from law enforcement—that will stay in place for now—and to do so within a reasonable time period.
Schools now will be required to seek a "clear and convincing" standard of proof, which means the evidence presented must have a higher probability of being true than not.
In the letter, education officials said that because of the Obama-era changes, "Schools face a confusing and counterproductive set of regulatory mandates, and the objective of regulatory compliance has displaced Title IX's goal of educational equity."
The department plans to make more permanent changes to Title IX but wants to do so through a rulemaking process that includes public comment. The department criticized the Obama administration for imposing the new regulations "without affording notice and the opportunity for public comment."
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