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时间:2017-09-10 16:09来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]

US Education Chief Promises to Change Rules on Sexual Assault

The United States Secretary of Education plans to change the way colleges and universities deal with accusations1 of sexual assault.

“The era of ‘rule by letter’ is over,” said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, in comments last Thursday to the news media.

DeVos is promising2 to replace a set of rules from a 2011 document known as the “Dear Colleague Letter.” It was given to school officials during the presidency3 of Barack Obama.

The letter expanded on Title IX, a U.S. law barring sex discrimination in schools that receive financial support from the federal government. It said Title IX can also be used to protect victims of sexual assault and harassment4. This meant schools were required to, among other things, offer a clear way for students and employees to report claims. In addition, colleges and universities must provide special medical services for victims.

The schools also have to hold their own fair and open investigations6 in addition to any criminal investigations by the police. If they fail to meet these and other requirements, the Education Department has the right to block their financial support. However, the government has yet to make use of such punishment.

Secretary Devos has promised to replace those rules, which she says created a system that failed students. She spoke7 during a visit to George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

“Instead of working with schools on behalf of students, the [Obama] administration weaponized the Office for Civil Rights to work against schools and against students,” she said.

DeVos spoke several times about protecting the rights of both sexual assault victims and those accused of carrying out attacks. She said the discussion about the issue has wrongly been formed as a competition between men and women.

DeVos did not explain how the rules will change. But she did say her office will ask the public and universities for help in developing new ones.

Critics of the “Dear Colleague Letter” cheered her announcement. They claim the current rules do not treat the accused and victims equally, but instead weigh more heavily against the accused.

Victim activists9 groups, however, called the education secretary’s message a step in the wrong direction.

New York lawyer Andrew Miltenberg has represented students accused of sexual assault. He said he was pleased to see the government recognize that schools had been mistreating the accused.

“Up until now, everyone’s been [frightened] of saying what [DeVos] said because the fear is it would be seen as being against victims’ rights,” he said.

Know Your IX is an activist8 group for sexual-assault survivors11. Its members said the speech sent the message that there is no one that will hold schools responsible for protecting students.

Sejal Singh serves as a policy coordinator12 for the group. She said, “I really fear that DeVos will take us back to the days when schools [often] violated survivors’ rights and pushed sexual assault under the rug.”

Debate over the 2011 memo13 has been rising in recent years. Critics say the rules ask school officials with little legal experience to act as judges. Also, they say the standards required for evidence are too low.

In U.S. criminal courts, the accusers must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a suspect is guilty. But the 2011 letter told colleges to judge students based on whether it is “more likely than not” that they committed the offense15.

During her speech, DeVos agreed with critics who say the current rules are too complex and hard to understand. They also depend on “the lowest standard of proof,” she added.

“Every survivor10 of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt14 is not [already decided],” she said.

At the same time, she made it clear that “acts of sexual misconduct are … unacceptable” and must be dealt with directly.

“Never again will these acts only be whispered about in closed-off … rooms or swept under the rug,” she promised.

About 25 protesters gathered outside the George Mason University building where DeVos spoke. Some were women who said they were sexually assaulted at their schools.

Former Obama administration officials disputed the comments DeVos made. Catherine Lhamon led the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights during Obama’s presidency. She defended the current rules and said the courts have supported them several times.

Lhamon added that her office ruled on behalf of students accused of sexual assault many times. She criticized DeVos for opening the rules to what she called “essentially a popular vote.”

But others education leaders said it is too soon to know how a change in federal policy would affect schools. Gloria Larson, the president of Bentley University in Massachusetts, said her school would continue to follow the Obama administration rules. American Council on Education senior vice5 president Terry Hartle says many schools will likely do the same. His organization represents about 1,800 college presidents.

But Hartle disagrees that DeVos’s speech means she will treat sexual assault accusations less seriously.

“The Obama administration took a very important step and raised the importance of the issue,” Hartle said. “But they missed the target, and we need to go back and ask whether or not we’ve got the policies … in place that we should.”

I’m Dorothy Gundy. And I’m Pete Musto.

Words in This Story

assault – n. the crime of trying or threatening to hurt someone physically16

era – n.a period of time that is associated with a particular quality, event, person?

financial – adj. relating to money

harassment – n. the act of annoying or bothering (someone) in a constant or repeated way

on behalf of – n. something done in support of someone

under the rug – idm. something that is illegal, embarrassing, or wrong that is hidden

standard(s) – n. a level of quality, or achievement that is considered acceptable or desirable

doubt – n. a feeling of being uncertain or unsure about something

misconduct – n. wrong behavior

whisper(ed) – v. to speak very softly or quietly


1 accusations 3e7158a2ffc2cb3d02e77822c38c959b     
n.指责( accusation的名词复数 );指控;控告;(被告发、控告的)罪名
  • There were accusations of plagiarism. 曾有过关于剽窃的指控。
  • He remained unruffled by their accusations. 对于他们的指控他处之泰然。
2 promising BkQzsk     
  • The results of the experiments are very promising.实验的结果充满了希望。
  • We're trying to bring along one or two promising young swimmers.我们正设法培养出一两名有前途的年轻游泳选手。
3 presidency J1HzD     
  • Roosevelt was elected four times to the presidency of the United States.罗斯福连续当选四届美国总统。
  • Two candidates are emerging as contestants for the presidency.两位候选人最终成为总统职位竞争者。
4 harassment weNxI     
  • She often got telephone harassment at night these days.这些天她经常在夜晚受到电话骚扰。
  • The company prohibits any form of harassment.公司禁止任何形式的骚扰行为。
5 vice NU0zQ     
  • He guarded himself against vice.他避免染上坏习惯。
  • They are sunk in the depth of vice.他们堕入了罪恶的深渊。
6 investigations 02de25420938593f7db7bd4052010b32     
(正式的)调查( investigation的名词复数 ); 侦查; 科学研究; 学术研究
  • His investigations were intensive and thorough but revealed nothing. 他进行了深入彻底的调查,但没有发现什么。
  • He often sent them out to make investigations. 他常常派他们出去作调查。
7 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
8 activist gyAzO     
  • He's been a trade union activist for many years.多年来他一直是工会的积极分子。
  • He is a social activist in our factory.他是我厂的社会活动积极分子。
9 activists 90fd83cc3f53a40df93866d9c91bcca4     
n.(政治活动的)积极分子,活动家( activist的名词复数 )
  • His research work was attacked by animal rights activists . 他的研究受到了动物权益维护者的抨击。
  • Party activists with lower middle class pedigrees are numerous. 党的激进分子中有很多出身于中产阶级下层。 来自《简明英汉词典》
10 survivor hrIw8     
  • The sole survivor of the crash was an infant.这次撞车的惟一幸存者是一个婴儿。
  • There was only one survivor of the plane crash.这次飞机失事中只有一名幸存者。
11 survivors 02ddbdca4c6dba0b46d9d823ed2b4b62     
幸存者,残存者,生还者( survivor的名词复数 )
  • The survivors were adrift in a lifeboat for six days. 幸存者在救生艇上漂流了六天。
  • survivors clinging to a raft 紧紧抓住救生筏的幸存者
12 coordinator Gvazk6     
  • The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, headed by the Emergency Relief Coordinator, coordinates all UN emergency relief. 联合国人道主义事务协调厅在紧急救济协调员领导下,负责协调联合国的所有紧急救济工作。
  • How am I supposed to find the client-relations coordinator? 我怎么才能找到客户关系协调员的办公室?
13 memo 4oXzGj     
  • Do you want me to send the memo out?您要我把这份备忘录分发出去吗?
  • Can you type a memo for me?您能帮我打一份备忘录吗?
14 guilt 9e6xr     
  • She tried to cover up her guilt by lying.她企图用谎言掩饰自己的罪行。
  • Don't lay a guilt trip on your child about schoolwork.别因为功课责备孩子而使他觉得很内疚。
15 offense HIvxd     
  • I hope you will not take any offense at my words. 对我讲的话请别见怪。
  • His words gave great offense to everybody present.他的发言冲犯了在场的所有人。
16 physically iNix5     
  • He was out of sorts physically,as well as disordered mentally.他浑身不舒服,心绪也很乱。
  • Every time I think about it I feel physically sick.一想起那件事我就感到极恶心。
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