"One person denied due process is one too many," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Friday during a television appearance to discuss the Department of Education's new Title IX policy.
Earlier this month, DeVos outlined her department's plan to overhaul the Obama administration's enforcement of Title IX, the federal law governing sex discrimination and harassment on campus. Earlier this week, DeVos officially rescinded Obama-era guidance on how colleges should carry out sexual assault investigations, guidance which had drawn criticism for being insufficiently concerned with students' due process rights.
DeVos appeared on Fox News's "The Story," where she told host Martha MacCallum that combatting sexual assault was a major priority — but so, too, was respecting due process.
"Let me just say that one sexual assault on campus is one too many, but one person denied due process is one too many, and that's really what this is all about," she said. "We really need to get to a point where it's fair for all students, and where it is clear with the process is for all students. There've been too many students wronged in a well-intentioned attempt to ensure that this issue is not swept under the rug."
DeVos further explained that under her tenure, the Department of Education would no longer be an "adversary" to college administrators.
"The office for civil rights, under the previous administration, really became an adversary to colleges and universities," she said. "In fact I had several college administrators tell me they were terrified to even contact the department for fear it would launch an investigation. That is not going to be the case any longer. We want to be a partner with schools to help them hold up their duty and their end of the deal, which is to protect students and ensure they have a safe environment."
MacCallum also asked DeVos about the claim that one in five women will be sexually assaulted on a college campus, a statistic propounded by the Bureau of Justice Statistics among others.
"I don't know the numbers for sure. All I know is that one is too many, and one student that is denied a due process is one too many, so we need to make sure that whatever we do, we are ultimately going to get it right on behalf of all students," DeVos said.