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Executive Order From Biden Could Improve How US Colleges Handle Sexual Misconduct

President Joe Biden is potentially going to improve on a Trump Administration policy that weakened how American colleges and universities that receive federal funding handle cases of sexual misconduct and assault accusations on campus, according to administration officials. 

Biden is projected to sign an executive order this Monday that would direct the Department of Education to review certain changes to policies that were implemented by former president Donald Trump. These policies include Title IX which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded institutions. 

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While Biden was campaigning he had a major focus on gender equality, and a big piece of that was a commitment to do better at protecting the young women of America who are constantly threatened at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities. He promised to strengthen Title IX if he won and “sign a second executive order formally establishing the White House Gender Policy Council,” according to two administration officials.

Biden had the plans to create the council before he even took office as well. The order will direct the DOE to review Title IX, and potentially shift how colleges handle allegations of sexual misconduct/assault in the future. 

Back in 2018 Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary, rescinded an Obama-era policy that made it standard for cases regarding sexual assault to require “preponderance of evidence,” and instead required “clear and convincing evidence” to make an allegation valid. Essentially, colleges and universities needed clear cut evidence that an assault occurred to actually do anything about it. These changes that were enforced by DeVos allowed colleges and universities to get away with ignoring the hundreds of allegations that appear on their campuses every year. 

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“The DeVos changes reduced the liability of colleges and universities for investigating sexual misconduct claims and bolstered the due process rights of the accused, including the right to cross-examine their accusers through a third-party advocate at campus hearings,” according to the Associative Press.

With the DOE now expected to review these policies, it’s expected that Biden is intending to make America’s colleges and universities a much safer place for students, and giving them the security of knowing that should something happen to them, they’ll have all the resources, information, and support they need to make sure they remain safe and the right parties are punished appropriately. 

The White House Gender Policy Council is a resurrection of the White House Council on Women and Girls, which was an Obama-era council that worked to combat issues specifically related to women’s rights. That council was disbanded under Trump, and Biden’s resurrection of it with a new name aims to “acknowledge that inequities can affect people of all genders, however, the council will primarily focus on issues facing women and girls due to the disproportionate barriers they face,” an official claimed. 

According to White House officials, “the new council is tasked with helping push gender equity on the administration’s domestic and foreign policy efforts. Some of the issues the council will focus on include combating sexual harassment, addressing structural barriers to women’s participation in the workforce, decreasing gender wage and wealth gaps, addressing caregiving issues that have disproportionately impacted women and responding to gender-based violence.”