Duke, UNC may have to revise their sex misconduct policies

Duke, UNC may have to revise their sex misconduct policies

The Trump administration has new guidelines for universities' sex misconduct hearings -- and UNC and Duke currently aren't meeting the new standard. 

Above: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Photo by Jacquelyn Martin for the Associated Press.

The Trump administration has new guidelines for universities and their sex misconduct hearings — and UNC and Duke currently aren’t meeting the new standard.

Both Duke and UNC say that, in a sex misconduct case, university officials should look at a “preponderance of evidence.” In all other student conduct cases, university officials should look at “clear and convincing evidence.”

Confused? Here’s a glossary:

A preponderance of evidence means a jury would look at the more convincing evidence and whether it was true — not at the amount of evidence.

Clear and convincing evidence means a party must present evidence that a jury would believe is true (or find it highly probable that the evidence is true).

In legal terms, clear and convincing evidence is a tougher standard to prove than a preponderance of evidence. And, to the Trump administration, that’s the problem: Having different standards for different types of cases could be considered discriminatory, according to its guidance.

So what’s going to happen? Right now, nothing. Both Duke and UNC say they’ll wait more formal guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.

Duke’s response:

“Our current student sexual misconduct policy remains in place while we await the Department of Education’s formal guidance following the standard rulemaking process,” said Michael Schoenfeld, Duke’s vice president for public affairs and government relations. “In any case, Duke remains dedicated to making our campus a safe environment for all students to learn and grow.”

UNC’s response:

“We are closely reviewing the new guidance and will follow the upcoming formal rulemaking process to determine the impact on the university,” said Felicia Washington, vice chancellor for human resources, equity and engagement. “We take every report of sexual misconduct seriously. We are committed to the ongoing safety and well being of our students, to providing appropriate care, support and resources, and to ensuring a fair process for all parties involved.”

You can read more about the discussion here.

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