One Year Later: OCR Stonewalls Objections to New Harassment Guidelines

Glenn Ricketts

It's been exactly one year since the Office for Civil Rights in the federal Depatrment of Education issued new requirements under which colleges and universities must process cases involving allegations of sexaul harassment or sexual assault.   The new rules as we noted here, seemed to stack the deck even more heavily against the accused, so that mere accusation was tantamount to conviction.   And not only due process:  freedom of speech and expression were directly threatened as well, given the broad and vaguely defined notion of "offensive" speech which OCR's definitions seemed to embrace.  College campuses, often remiss in protecting these areas, now seemed to be pushed even further down the road of censorship by OCR's new rules.

NAS, along with FIRE, the AAUP and numerous other organizations protested strongly, asking that the new regulations be rescinded.  To date, as FIRE notes in this press release today, OCR has been wholly silent, its new regime still firmly in place.  No public response, no acknowledgment of the legitimacy of these concerns, zero.

We'll be staying the course with FIRE and others who have risen to the defense of academic freedom of speech and the due process rights of those accused of harassment.  But it looks to be a very long haul, unfortunately.

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