Title IX Regulations Are Making Universities Act More Like Corporations, AAUP Says

The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights has pushed colleges and universities toward acting more like corporations in handling sexual assault and harassment cases, a new report argues.

Many schools working to change their policies to better comply with the gender equity law Title IX are doing it solely to avoid federal investigations and lawsuits, not to actually stamp out sexual violence on campus, the American Association of University Professors claims in a draft report released Thursday. In the process, they say, many policies are endangering academic freedom and due process rights of faculty and students.

“This client‐service model can run counter to universities’ educational mission when, as in the case of Title IX, universities may take actions that avoid OCR investigations and private lawsuits but that do not significantly improve gender equity,” the report says.

Instead, the AAUP argues, these steps may “actually exacerbate gender and other inequities on campus.”

Sexual violence in college has received widespread attention in recent years, largely prompted by student activism and complaints that universities mishandled cases, treating victims poorly. There are over 200 ongoing investigations by OCR of colleges allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases.

In response, schools have reformed their policies, either due to activist or media scrutiny, or under pressure by guidance released by OCR. Those efforts haven’t been productive, according to AAUP, and often skimp on “comprehensive assessments of bases of inequality.”

For example, colleges and the Education Department would do well to focus on improving “conditions of interdisciplinary learning on campus by funding gender, feminist, and sexuality studies, as well as allied disciplines.” In other words, if schools focused more effort toward actually educating students about sex-based discrimination, they would be more effective at shifting cultures on campus.

The Education Department denied there is any conflict between its enforcement of —> Read More