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Betsy DeVos revokes policy on campus sexual assault investigations

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made good on her promise to help college students accused of rape, but where does that leave real rape victims?
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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos just made it easier for college students to get away with rape.

DeVos on Friday rescinded Obama-era guidelines for investigating sexual assaults on college campuses. She replaced them with temporary guidelines that she said would "treat all students fairly."

"This interim guidance will help schools as they work to combat sexual misconduct and will treat all students fairly," DeVos said in an announcement. "Schools must continue to confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on. There will be no more sweeping them under the rug. But the process also must be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes."

The Obama administration had put new rules in place that started hundreds of investigations into colleges accused of looking the other way when it came to sexual assault accusations. The schools that didn’t adhere to the policies were at risk of losing federal funding.

The previous rules had required colleges to look into complaints of sexual assault even if a criminal inquiry was underway. It also created a tougher standard of evidence used to weigh evidence, a move that critics claimed favored the predominantly female accusers over the male accusers.

DeVos’ new rules allow universities to use a “clear and convincing” standard of evidence for those accused of sexual assault, placing the burden of proof heavily on the accusers.

A 2013 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that about 80 percent of sexual assaults of female college students were unreported, compared to 67 percent of non-students.