The Trump administration has given the nation plenty of reason to resist its actions and policies, fueling legitimate outrage again and again.
Sadly, that’s preventing any effort to look objectively at serious problems.
This week, Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley joined a panel at Portland State University to discuss changes in federal rules about campus sexual assault.
The message was clear: Oregon’s colleges and universities must resist Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ move to scale back Obama-era guidelines on how they handle sexual assault.
Those guidelines attempted to solve a long-standing problem on college campuses in which many sexual assault complaints were not taken seriously and procedures discouraged victims from coming forward.
But the solution created a new problem: The accused didn’t get a fair chance to defend themselves. A lower-standard of proof, “preponderance of the evidence,” replaced “clear and convincing evidence.” In defense of accusers, procedures victimized the accused.
DeVos announced in September that colleges could use the higher standard while a period of public comment would lead to new final rules that “confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on” while being “fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcome.”
President Obama’s well-intentioned effort to right one wrong has created another — well-documented by credible experts from many universities, including a published plea from professors at Harvard University pointing out the ways the accused were being railroaded and their rights denied.
But there are few open minds to consider DeVos’ timely effort to find an appropriate middle ground, to right the wrongs that came from an effort to right other wrongs.
Instead of joining the outraged chorus, Merkley and Wyden could do their constituents a favor by being the grown-ups in the room. They could acknowledge the problems in the current process and help find the right balance, one that would protect both accuser and accused in this sensitive and critical conflict.