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Rules and pun­ish­ments will not erad­icate the college campus sexual assault pan­demic. This crisis will end only when stu­dents’ edu­cation con­vinces them to lead moral lives.

Edu­cation Sec­retary Betsy DeVos showed she does not under­stand this reality when she addressed the issue last Friday at the Mackinac Repub­lican Lead­ership Con­ference, imploring uni­ver­sities to heighten the stan­dards of evi­dence they use in exam­ining sexual crimes and admin­is­tering pun­ishment.

“To be very clear, one sexual assault is one too many. It is hor­rible and lam­en­table, but the current failed system didn’t work for stu­dents, it didn’t work for insti­tu­tions, it didn’t work for anyone,” the Detroit News reported her saying. “It didn’t work because unelected and unac­countable political appointees pushed the guidance through without any period for comment from those who walk side-by-side stu­dents every day. The time for inef­fi­cient and inef­fective man­dates is over.”

DeVos’ interim guide­lines will allow col­leges to mold their policies around the “pre­pon­derance of the evi­dence” standard created by the Obama Admin­is­tration or her own standard, which calls for “clear and con­vincing evi­dence.”

But neither strategy con­fronts the most pressing part of the problem — the stu­dents them­selves.

Any threat of pun­ishment and legal recourse will nat­u­rally dis­courage people from com­mitting sexual mis­conduct, but as DeVos pointed out, that is not working — but it seems she doesn’t under­stand why. These crimes exist on cam­puses because stu­dents who sex­ually assault other stu­dents don’t care to lead moral lives and their schools do nothing to combat the problem out of which these serious symptoms grow.

Most col­leges give their incoming stu­dents a type of crash course, usually online, that schools them in Title IX and what types of sexual encounters comply with those stan­dards. Harvard Uni­versity, for example, has its Title IX Resource Guide, a website that details which signs can indicate wel­comed or unwel­comed activity, defines inca­pac­i­tation, lays out juris­diction and retal­i­ation, and lists rel­evant state laws.

The section explaining unwelcome conduct states that “whether conduct is unwelcome is deter­mined based on the totality of the cir­cum­stances, including various objective and sub­jective factors,” before it lists seven points to know about unwelcome conduct.

The section offers no expla­nation as to why stu­dents are obliged to behave one way and not the other. The only statement that breaches an end of proper sexual conduct explains that Harvard wants to maintain a healthy and safe envi­ronment for everyone involved with the uni­versity.

That’s it. Rape and molestation should be avoided so stu­dents can learn and pro­fessors can teach.

Harvard, which has some of the highest levels of sexual assault on its campus, does not even address those who commit, or who may commit, these crimes. The uni­versity fails to con­vince potential per­pe­trators to do what is right because they do not explain why appro­priate behavior is appro­priate, other than that it “helps main­taining a safe and healthy edu­ca­tional and work envi­ronment.”

Guide­lines like these, lists of rules, slaps on the wrists, pos­sible pun­ish­ments, and legal con­se­quences will never extin­guish the flames of immorality igniting cam­puses. Only morality can do that. But to instill morality in stu­dents, schools must teach it before they hold stu­dents to it.

If stu­dents learned about virtues like mod­er­ation and purity, they might view sex as an intimate act best shared between two con­senting persons, even if they deny the out­dated belief that sex belongs in the context of mar­riage. If schools merely hinted at good reasons for appro­priate, respectful sexual behavior like human dignity and basic kinder­garten ethics, fewer victims would be sub­jected to a lifetime of physical and psy­cho­logical trauma from an act so heinous as rape.

DeVos has prompted schools to recon­sider their policies on sexual assault. While they revise stan­dards of evi­dence, admin­is­trators need to find a way to teach their stu­dents why humans should treat other humans with respect in every inter­action.

Katherine Scheu is a senior studying French.