Betsy DeVos’ family foundation has long donated to organizations that side with students accused of rape — not their victims.
Donald Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary, Michigan billionaire and philanthropist Betsy DeVos, has kept fairly silent on her plans for higher education. But if her charitable giving is any indication, then DeVos could worsen a crisis already plaguing college campuses across the country: sexual violence.
Nearly 20 percent of female college students report experiencing rape or sexual assault each year. Surprisingly, however, the DeVos family foundation has long donated to organizations that frequently side with students accused of rape and sexual abuse. For instance, IRS records show the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation made four donations, totaling $25,000, to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
FIRE has stirred controversy for its fierce dedication to individual rights, and the organization often provides legal counsel to students being investigated for sexual misconduct. Yet, the organization does little to protect assault victims.
In fact, the organization’s one-sided “protecting the unprotected” agenda has led FIRE to make troubling statements against any legislative attempt to prevent campus sexual assault.
In 2014, for instance, FIRE criticized California’s newly enacted “Yes Means Yes” law, the first law in the nation to set a standard for ‘affirmative consent.’ The legislation protects against unwanted sexual contact by requiring that students receive verifiable consent during sexual activity. Hundreds of colleges are now adopting the affirmative consent standard in their sexual assault policies.
But FIRE criticized California’s law as a “threat” to due process. As for the rights of the millions of college students who report experiencing rape or sexual assault each year, FIRE has remained largely silent.