Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who in order to further protect those accused of sexual assault and rape rescinded President Barack Obama-era guidelines on handling campus sexual assault earlier this month, was met with a powerful, mostly silent protest when she tried to push her privatization of public schools that she's branded as "school choice" at Harvard University on Thursday.
DeVos, who gave a speech to sell her "school choice" initiative that critics say would take money federal money formerly allotted to public schools and hand it to private (for-profit) schools, was met with students who silently stood before her holding banners aimed at her policies and the Trump administration. One student held up a sign that read "White Supremacist," but before security could address that student, two more stood up holding a sign that read "Our Students Are Not 4 Sale." Around the room, the banners began to be unfurled reading, "Protect Survivors' Rights," "Reclaiming My Democracy," "Dark Money," and "Our Harvard Can Do Better."
DeVos doubled down on her commitment to keeping all students safe when she was asked how she planned to protect transgender students. She failed to mention that she revoked guidelines for allowing trans students to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity as one of her first actions as Education Secretary early this year.
"With respect to any student that feels unsafe or discriminated against in their school, that is the last thing we want and the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education continues to hear and work with the schools that have any of those issues to deal with," DeVos said, according to ABC. "And we are committed to doing that on behalf of the students."
Regarding this month's decision to put the needs of those accused of rape on equal footing with sexual assault survivors DeVos said, "One sexual assault is one too many. By the same token, one student that is denied due process is one too many. So we need to ensure that that policy and that framework is fair to all students."
One student asked a pointed question of DeVos, who is a billionaire.
"So, You're a billionaire with lots and lots of investments, and the so-called 'school choice' movement is a way to open the floodgates for corporate interests to make money off the backs of students," the student said, according to The Daily Kos. "How much do you expect your net worth to increase as a result of your policy choices and what are your friends on Wall Street and in the business world--like the Koch brothers--saying about the potential to get rich off the backs of students?"
DeVos was told she didn't have to answer the student's question and as she left the room someone began chanting, "That's what white supremacy looks like."