Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. has called for a "commitment to diversity" at universities nationwide that includes "safe spaces" where those on campus can talk about "race and discrimination," The Daily Caller reports.
Released in the form of a "Dear Colleague" letter, King said colleges "have a responsibility to make sure schools are safe and supportive places for all," and administrators must guarantee that students "never fear being threatened or attacked."
He added that officials should train all those on campus "how to support diverse student populations and address the implicit biases we all carry with us."
Student protesters at numerous universities nationwide in the past year have demanded "safe spaces" as part of their demonstrations.
King instructed that "when institutions become aware of any form of discriminatory harassment that creates a hostile environment, they are legally obligated to promptly and effectively address the harassment, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent harassment from recurring, and remedy its effects."
While "Dear Colleague" letters do not have the force of an executive order, they do make clear to schools how the administration wants certain issues handled, Heatstreet reported.
Another such letter in 2011, for example, suggested that schools use both Title IX and low evidentiary standards to probe cases of sexual assault on campus. As schools implemented the policy, campus sexual assault complaints went up dramatically from 400 in 2010 to some 2,500 in 2014. Also skyrocketing were complaints of denial of due process and false prosecution.
King's directive came as he also wrote another letter calling for an end to corporal punishment in the states where it is still permitted, The Washington Post reported.
He called corporal punishment "harmful, ineffective, and often disproportionately applied to students of color and students with disabilities," and said schools should instead "promote supportive, effective disciplinary measures."
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