WASHINGTON, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) today praised the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to replace its current guidance on campus sexual assault and submit new guidance to a formal notice-and-comment period.
Known as the “Dear Colleague Letter,” the 2011 guidance from the Department of Education outlined how colleges should handle campus sexual assault under the gender-equity law known as Title IX. ACTA has long believed that the guidance gave insufficient consideration to due process and to First Amendment rights.
ACTA President Michael Poliakoff said of the decision, “Sexual assault is a heinous crime that has no place anywhere, least of all on college campuses. But, in its current form, the Education Department’s guidance fails to adhere to standards of due process that are the honor of the American system of justice. Calling for swift, stern action without proper investigation and procedure is likely to mean that far too often the guilty walk free and the innocent are punished.
“The Department is wise to replace the ‘Dear Colleague’ guidance and to submit new regulation to the Federal Register for notice-and-comment. It is a grave miscarriage of justice and an affront to American values to deny anyone due process and the presumption of innocence. By following the rulemaking process, ACTA believes the Department will be able to keep our campuses safe while upholding the constitutional rights of all students.”
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