The Short Version: Title IX Guidelines for Sexual Assault

The Short Version: Title IX Guidelines for Sexual Assault

The point of it all is to break down the headlines, determine why an issue is important, and reveal the best arguments on each side of the story. Recently Cleo focused on whether or not a single-payer system be the goal for American health care. This week she asks: Should universities adjudicate sexual assault cases?

Note: If you have missed any of Cleo’s blogs, just go to our Home Page, type “The Short Version” into Search (magnifying glass icon) and poof, like magic, all her blogs will appear.


Cleo Constantine Abrams of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

Cleo Constantine Abrams of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

What’s happening?

On Friday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos changed how universities will handle sexual assault on campus.

The Department of Education rescinded Obama administration guidelines and announced a formal review of school sexual assault policies. In the meantime, schools are expected to use a new Q&A document to make decisions about ongoing cases.

The new rules still require schools to investigate sexual assault but make it more difficult to find accused students responsible.

Why is it important?

In 2011, the Department of Education under the Obama administration published a now-famous ‘Dear Colleague‘ letter. The letter required schools to investigate sexual misconduct and outlined how to do it.

There are two key parts of this conversation: first, the idea that schools should be responsible for dealing with sexual assault to begin with and second, the standard of evidence they should use if they do adjudicate these cases. The first is our debate.

For the second, the Obama and Trump administrations set different standards of evidence. “Preponderance of evidence” is the standard established by the Obama administration and used in civil court cases. Here, the university must find the student responsible if it is more likely than not he or she is guilty. “Clear and convincing evidence” is the standard proposed by DeVos and the Trump administration. Now, the university must find a student responsible only if it is “highly probable” he or she is guilty. (“Beyond a reasonable doubt” is the highest standard and the most familiar, but it is used in criminal court cases, not in universities.)

Debate it!

Should universities adjudicate sexual assault cases?

Follow the debate here. 

Why The Short Version on TIO?

Over nine years ago, Telluride Inside…and Out began as a lifestyle webzine. Today, in the full knowledge that Telluride is a window on the world, we continue to bring the “zazz” (short for “pizzazz) of the region to a local, national, and global audience by covering everything from Telluride’s robust cultural economy – major events and festivals – to health and fitness and outdoor adventure. When Telluride travels, we write about places to go, people to meet too. (That’s part of the “Out” part of our handle, the other, obviously, Outdoors.)

And now, this weekly column, “The Short Version,” which offers simple summaries of issues of national and global importance.

“The Short Version” is written by Cleo Constantine Abram, the daughter of Telluride locals Eleni Constantine and Jonathan Abram (and therefore an honorary local and regular visitor) and a digital strategist.

Why “The Short Version”? Because, though we live in Shangri-La, our bubble is not impermeable and the rest of the world is only a click away. Because there is no inconsequential action; only consequential inaction. And because information is power in a moment so many of us are feeling powerless.

More about Cleo Constantine Abram:


Cleo Abram 2


Cleo grew up in Washington D.C., lives in New York City, and loves to visit her parents in Telluride. She authors “The Short Version,” a newsletter that explains each week’s most important issue and both sides of the debate around it.

Cleo is a digital strategist now working at Vox, a general interest news site for the 21st century. Its mission is simple: Explain the news. Politics, public policy, world affairs, pop culture, science, business, and more.

Cleo’s work focuses on ways to share, educate, and inform using online platforms. While in college at Columbia University, she guided the school’s entrance into online education through her role as the youngest elected representative to the Columbia Senate, which makes university-wide policy.

She continued her work on online education at TED-Ed, the educational branch of the nonprofit, building new programs and online tools to support high school teachers worldwide.

Continuing her work with TED, Cleo founded and led an early TEDx conference, the organization’s community-specific series.

Recently, Cleo returned to school, studying video storytelling at Columbia Journalism School.

Most importantly, Cleo loves to ski.


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