The secretary of education believes college students accused of rape are worthier of her time and sympathy than people scammed by disreputable "for-profit" colleges.
She only got the position because she was a billionaire Republican megadonor who also happens to fund school privatization activists. Her proposals, wherever they have been adopted, have wrecked K-12 education.
In recent months, however, DeVos has also done massive harm to America’s higher education system. And nothing better demonstrates her ignorant and twisted priorities for colleges and universities than the groups she is choosing to meet with.
On Thursday, DeVos refused an invitation to meet with students in the Project on Predatory Student Lending. The group, run by attorneys at Harvard Law School, represents students who were bilked for tens of thousands of dollars by for-profit scam colleges, like ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges, which shut down after lawsuits and investigations into their lending practices.
DeVos, who for years was invested in a student debt collection agency, just suspended new regulations to grant relief to such scammed students, saying at a Republican retreat that “all one had to do was raise his or her hands to be entitled to so-called free money.”
The fact that DeVos has no time to meet with student scam victims after denying them federal relief is even more striking when you consider the people for whom she has made time.
In July, DeVos took a meeting with the National Coalition for Men, a self-proclaimed “men’s rights activist” group that favors rolling back protections for rape survivors and workplace inclusion of women. The group has filed frivolous lawsuits alleging discrimination against men, and gives legal advice to rapists on how to silence their victims.
In one repugnant example of their worldview, after NFL player Ray Rice was caught on surveillance assaulting his fiancée in an elevator, the group’s president said, “If she hadn’t aggravated him, she wouldn’t have been hit.”
One week ago, DeVos handed this group an enormous gift by rolling back civil rights protections for campus rape survivors, urging colleges to allow accused rapists to directly interrogate victims, ban victims from appealing a school’s decision, and raise the burden of proof to a standard much higher than for other campus investigations or civil suits.
Nothing better exemplifies the way the Trump administration views justice than the fact that his secretary of education thinks accused rapists deserve broader rights and a personal meeting, but victims of predatory student lenders are just looking for “free money” and can be ignored.
As long as this administration is in place, the most victimized people in society will forever have to worry about their own government adding crude insult to injury.