Associations representing the nation’s colleges and universities are urging the incoming Biden administration to quickly undo much of what the Trump administration did on higher education policy, starting with changing a rule that, they worry, will make it harder for victims of sexual assault and harassment to come forward.
In particular, the administration should undo the new requirement under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 that requires cross-examinations in a live hearing in cases involving sexual assault on campuses. That “could have a chilling effect on the willingness of survivors to come forward and raises serious concerns about retraumatization,” wrote Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, in a letter signed by 44 other higher education groups, among them the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Association of American Universities, and the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.
The groups also applauded President-elect Joe Biden’s plans to reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and urged the incoming administration to drop Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s position barring DACA and other students who do not qualify for federal student aid from receiving emergency grants under the CARES Act.
Among a long list of other actions they are hoping Biden will take, the groups would like the administration to halt additional requirements for institutions on reporting foreign gifts and to “review and, when appropriate, terminate a number of investigations initiated and being conducted by political appointees in ED that are broadly understood to be politically motivated.” An example, the groups said, is the Education Department’s investigation of Princeton University after its president, in discussing its efforts to deal with inequity, acknowledged the existence of systemic racism in the institution’s history.
The groups also urged the incoming administration to restore the Obama administration’s guidance that institutions can consider race in making admissions decisions and to drop the Justice Department’s lawsuit alleging Yale University’s policies discriminate against white and Asian American applicants. The groups also want the Biden administration to drop DeVos’s rules requiring free inquiry at colleges and barring diversity training. They further want Biden to restore Obama administration rules making it easier for students defrauded by colleges to cancel their loans and holding for-profit colleges accountable.