By the New York Daily News Editorial Board.
Federal law prohibits gender discrimination, including sexual harassment and assault, on campus. This is a very good thing.
Under President Obama, Department of Education regulations interpreting this law, Title IX, morphed into a parallel justice system, and a deficient one. Ill-equipped colleges, sometimes handling complaints so grave they should be in the hands of police departments, failed to investigate professionally on behalf of alleged victims, while giving insufficient rights to the accused.
For good measure, the new regime encouraged the filing of anonymous through-the-looking-glass inquisitions, such as the examination of Northwestern Prof. Laura Kipnis for, we’re not making this up, writing an essay about the new skewed sexual politics on campuses.
This was a very bad thing.
Enter President Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who’s wrong about a whole hell of a lot but in this case knew how to right the ship.
Under new federal rules, the definition of campus sexual harassment will become narrower than before, so as not to allow Kafkaesque complaints that chip away at a healthy climate for free expression.
Students accused of offenses will be entitled to lawyers, and to the right to cross-examine their accusers. Especially when an individual is accused of an offense tantamount to rape, especially when charges can involve two young people who are both severely inebriated, those are crucial bits of due process.
Simultaneously, schools will be encouraged to offer accusers accommodations — such as a schedule change, new housing arrangements or an order for the accused individual to stay away — even if no formal complaint is filed.
One substantial caveat: It doesn’t make sense to limit the scope of a school’s responsibility to the school proper, as DeVos would, when a wide range of questionable behavior happens in sanctioned off-campus venues, including fraternity houses.
But mostly, DeVos has rebalanced scales that had tipped out of whack.