Bombshell report reveals Trump administration is changing sexual assault rules at colleges. To protect the accused.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

The proposed rules would dramatically change protections and rights for victims.

A shocking new report on proposed college campus rule changes could dramatically alter America’s approach to sexual assault — in a way that undermines the rights and protections of victims.

According to proposed rule changes from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the changes would raise the bar for what constitutes sexual harassment or assault to “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s education program or activity.”


Even more disturbing, the proposed changes would allow the accused to “confront” their accusers in cross-examinations and mediated dialogue and have access to evidence even in situations where that evidence would not be used as part of a criminal or disciplinary situation.

Earlier rules outlined in 2011 by the Obama Administration sought to avoid such mediations, even when both parties agreed to them, because of the obvious risk of emotional harm and legal liabilities placed upon victims of harassment or assault.

Many of the changes are aimed at undoing advances made during the Obama presidency.

Like so many moves made under President Trump’s watch, the proposed rule changes seem to have as much to do with attacking Obama’s legacy as they do with enacting actual policy.

In the draft obtained exclusively by The New York Times, DeVos writes that “The lack of clear regulatory standards has contributed to processes that have not been fair to all parties involved, that have lacked appropriate procedural protections, and that have undermined confidence in the reliability of the outcomes of investigations of sexual harassment allegations.”

Recent studies from the Department of Education show that reports of sexual harassment and assault are unbelievably low, in 2015, 89 percent of American colleges reported zero cases of rape.

That flies in the face of more widely accepted studies which estimate that 20 percent of all women experience sexual assault on college campuses.

In other words, to score political points against President Obama’s legacy, the Trump Administration is going out of its way to protect the rights of those accused of sexual harassment and assault.

This is a shocking change. And the only way to stop the Trump White House is to demand they back down.

So far, the Education Department is denying The New York Times report. But as The Times notes, if the Education Department’s draft rules are approved by Betsy DeVos, they would not require congressional approval.

Instead, the rule changes only require a “public comment period” before they are backed by the force of law.

Whether or not these are the final rules proposed by the Trump White House, it’s clear they are not moving in the direction of protecting men and women who have survived assault or been victims of harassment.

If we want to stop these changes from becoming law it’s up to everyone to let the White House know that the changes are unacceptable. The rules put into place by the Obama White House in 2011 may not be perfect but these changes are perfectly wrong.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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