College sexual assault victims worried about revising Title IX

Sexual assault on college campus policies are being revised under DeVos

Maya Weinstein was just a couple of months into her first semester at George Washington University in 2012.

She was playing sports, she was in a sorority and excited for what was to come until one night, she stopped to visit whom she thought was a friend.

“I had been drinking, he had not," Weinstein said. "He took advantage of that situation and he raped me."

For six months, she debated whether to report it to the university.

“Whenever I saw him, my heart would drop, and I would freeze," she said.

Weinstein spoke up and the university started an investigation under Title IX. Now, that same policy is getting a closer look under the new Department of Education leadership.

“This is an issue we're not getting right in its entirety,” Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said.

In an interview with the New York Times, Deputy Assistant Education Secretary Candice Jackson said “90 percent” of sexual assault accusations “fall into the category of 'we were both drunk.'”

Jackson has since apologized for saying that, but her comments have sexual assault victims and their advocates worried.

“Whether they have been drinking, or whether they had a former relationship with that person, or whether they consented to sex two weeks ago and didn't want it last night; rape is rape."

In criminal investigations, accusations must be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt."

In sexual assault investigations on college campuses, the Obama administration mandated universities to adopt the "preponderance of evidence" standard. It's a lower standard of proof and it means the claim must be more likely true than not.

Advocates for the accused say that guideline has led to wrongful accusations and conclusions. They want the current administration to return to the higher standard of "clear and convincing," which falls somewhere in between "beyond a reasonable doubt" and "preponderance of evidence."

“When I finally found out that I was being expelled, it was like something hit me in the gut,” said Jonathan Andrews, a former student who claims he was wrongly accused of sexual assault. “I didn't expect it because it wasn't the truth.”

Andrews is one of the former students asking Secretary Betsy DeVos to change the policy.

“The pendulum is swung so far to one side that it's guilty until proven innocent in many cases,” he said.

However, Weinstein says even under the current guidelines, the deck is stacked against the victims. In her case, she believes the university didn't do enough to protect her from her aggressor.

“They gave him an exemption to his sanctions so he could attend a frat party,” she said.

But at the very least, she says, the university had an obligation to take her accusation seriously.

“If it wasn't for Title IX I don't know if I would've been able to finish my education,” Weinstein said.

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