CounterCurrent: Week of 11/17
Passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX is a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination based on sex within federally-funded educational institutions. In its purest form, it provides necessary protections for vulnerable individuals in colleges and universities. However, those with a bent for legislative and judicial activism have steadily expanded Title IX’s scope and power, causing the law to balloon into a form unrecognizable at the time of its writing. In case after case, the basic principles of justice are compromised at the expense of those accused—of sexual discrimination, of sexual misconduct and even just perceived sexual offense—leading to a dangerous “rule by bureaucracy” on American campuses.
Among those who have broadened the reach of Title IX are former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the former applying the law to college sports and the latter adding sexual violence to the definition of discrimination. The Obama administration’s changes were especially disquieting, as they effectively created an administrative hydra of Title IX officers who feel at liberty to operate outside the bounds of existing law and their own institution’s protocols. This beast has innumerable heads, and few of them are trained in the basic principles of justice.
The result is the presumption of guilt rather than innocence and the wholesale neglect of due process in Title IX investigations designed to find fault, leading to rampant false accusations and punishments. In one particularly egregious case, a male student at Grinnell College was expelled upon uncorroborated complaints from two female students, and later learned that one of his case’s adjudicators completely side-stepped school policy in her decision. Stories of this nature abound, demonstrating the drastic extent to which Title IX enforcement has gotten out of control.
This dire state of affairs has prompted the NAS to launch the Title IX Project, led by Director Teresa Manning, in an effort to shed light on the law’s failings and suggest reforms for its future implementation. There have already been some encouraging developments since the project began, including a successful lawsuit by a falsely accused Boston College student and an executive order designed to remedy the overreach of the aforementioned Obama-era regulations. In this week’s featured article, Manning chronicles the evolution of Title IX since its inception and sets the stage for her future work on the issue. Through Manning’s efforts, the NAS hopes to combat bureaucratic tyranny and protect the rights of the accused in higher education.
CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by Communications & Administrative Associate John David. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.
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