The head of Illinois State University’s Title IX program said the university is still assessing the potential impacts proposed changes for sexual assault claims on campuses could have on victims and the accused.
The new rules U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has proposed are intended to give the more legal protections for the accused.
Tony Walesby, who runs ISU’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, said under the new model anyone accused of assault would be able to legally question their accuser in a hearing.
"You could have the attorney for the respondent, the person that’s been accused, directly asking questions of the aggrieved party,” Walesby said. “That’s a bit different than the process we currently have.”
Walesby said the changes would be less dramatic for universities like ISU which already conduct hearings on these sexual assault claims.
Walesby said while it remains to be seen what impact the rules would have, but he doesn't anyone to feel silenced.
“We are always concerned and worried that any of our students, those who are coming forward and those who are accused will not feel that they are getting support throughout the process, that they are concerned about the process,” Walesby said. “So we are doing a variety of training and outreach across campus.”
Walesby added in many universities about 30 percent of the allegations are ruled to have cause. But, in the Title Seven Civil Rights Act which covers sexual harassment in businesses, he said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission cause rate is about three to five percent.
The public has until mid-January to comment on the proposed rules to the U.S. Department of Education.
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