LeBlanc commits to Obama-era sexual assault protections

University President Thomas LeBlanc said Monday that the University would continue using one major aspect of Obama-era federal Title IX protections even after the Education Department withdrew those guidelines last week, according to a University release.

LeBlanc said GW would continue deciding responsibility in sexual assault cases using the “preponderance of evidence,” or more likely than not standard, something he said the University has used in Title IX cases since before it was federally mandated in 2011.

“I want to make clear to all members of our community that we have no intention of removing the support currently in place for survivors of sexual assault,” LeBlanc said in the statement. “We will continue to take allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual violence very seriously.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday rescinded two major pieces of guidance given to colleges and universities during the Obama administration on how to handle sexual assault cases on their campuses.

The new guidelines allow universities to use a more stringent “clear and convincing” standard of evidence in Title IX cases. DeVos said the new guidance would prevent abuses in the system that had been unfair to those accused of sexual assault.

LeBlanc said officials will closely monitor federal changes to best advocate the interests of students, as the University’s own Title IX policies are reviewed by outside legal experts.

LeBlanc said he issued the statement after hearing concerns from community members and alumni who wrote to him a letter earlier this month urging officials to speak out against planned federal changes alumni said would weaken protections for sexual assault survivors on campus.

“We must continue our work to create a University culture in which every member of our community understands that sexual misconduct and sexual violence are unacceptable,” LeBlanc said. “We have made great strides in the last several years, and that progress must continue.”

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