By Ethan Resnik
On March 8, President Biden ordered his administration to review federal rules that guide colleges on how they handle sexual assault cases on campus. During his presidential campaign, Biden said he would bring a “quick end” to the Title IX regulations implemented under former President Trump, which provided added protections for students who were accused.
The previous protective rules included the right for students accused of sexual misdemeanor to be presumed innocent. Students were allowed to see all evidence collected against them and to combat these accusations, according to NBC News.
Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos instituted these changes through a formal rulemaking process. However, the same process would have to be put in place to revoke these rules or Congress would have to step in. Biden’s order for a review drew praise from civil rights groups that say DeVos’ policy has had a chilling effect on the reporting of sexual assaults, and also from colleges that say the rules are overly prescriptive and burdensome to follow, according to ABC News.
Biden also signed a second executive order formally establishing the White House Gender Policy Council, which his transition team had announced before he took office. “The policy of this administration is that every individual, every student is entitled to a fair education — free of sexual violence — and that all involved have access to a fair process,” Jennifer Klein, co-chair and executive director of the Gender Policy Council, told reporters at a White House briefing according to ABC News.
The second executive order will establish a gender policy council to aid in developing domestic and foreign policies that fight “bias and discrimination, including sexual harassment,” the White House said in a news release.
The council will work to advance gender equality globally, promote equity and opportunities in education and leadership, and address the obstacles women face in the labor force, the release said. The White House called the council “an essential part of the Biden-Harris administration’s plan to ensure we build a more equal and just society.”
Specifically, the council will focus on key issues such as combating sexual harassment, addressing structural barriers to women’s participation in the workforce, decreasing gender wage and wealth gaps and addressing caregiving issues that have disproportionately affected women.
Biden signed the orders hours before delivering a White House address to mark International Women’s Day, according to ABC News.