Title IX Bureaucrats Meet Due Process Once Again

David Acevedo

Editor's Note: This article was originally published under the name "John David," the former pseudonym of NAS Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To learn more about why David no longer writes under this name, click here.

CounterCurrent: Week of 4/5

In recent years, more and more college students have found themselves wrongly accused of sexual misconduct and denied basic due process rights by their schools, with little ability to clear their names. Title IX, which began as a necessary and reasonable part of the Higher Education Act (HEA) designed to protect students from sexual discrimination, has morphed into an administrative behemoth with little regard for the rights of the accused, especially when the accusation is sexual misconduct as discrimination. The presumption of innocence becomes the presumption of guilt as students are punished before their alleged misconduct is proven.

One such case occurred back in 2018 at the University of Michigan, where student John Doe’s transcript and degree were indefinitely withheld after he was accused of sexual misconduct by a female peer. Doe was never given a hearing or the chance for cross examination, prompting him to file a lawsuit against the school. He was but the latest in a long line of students who have sued their colleges for violations of basic due process rights.

Late last month, Senior U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow handed down his decision regarding UMich’s behavior in Doe’s case. He ruled that the disciplinary action taken, and importantly, that the school’s Title IX policy in general was unconstitutional due to administrators’ blatant disregard for Doe’s rights. Furthermore, these same bureaucrats have been stripped of their “qualified immunity,” meaning they can now be held personally liable for John Doe’s damages. In this week’s featured article, Connor Ellington of The College Fix breaks down the history and full substance of Judge Tarnow’s ruling, placing it in context with similar decisions.

Regardless of whether or not the UMich administrators are penalized for their actions, Tarnow’s decision is a step in the right direction. Higher education bureaucrats must know that there are consequences for corruption: they can no longer hide behind a shield of immunity. With the shield removed, these bureaucrats will be far more likely to respect the rights of their accused students. 

We’ve seen lawsuits like this succeed before. Just last October, a jury awarded $100,000 to a Boston College student who was wrongfully punished for sexual misconduct he did not commit. The school’s administrators didn’t seem to care about the evidence or that there was another suspect. We hope that Tarnow’s decision will dissuade such corruption within the Title IX bureaucracy and restore the basic constitutional rights of all students.

P.S.: Please remember to consider signing, and circulating, the Faculty Resolution drafted by the nonprofit Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) in support of due process in Title IX campus proceedings. New regulations implementing Title IX are expected soon and deserve our support: They go a long way toward restoring due process protections for those accused of sexual discrimination and misconduct and therefore help fix a broken system that has hurt students and faculty alike.

To become a co-signer, send your name, academic degrees, title, university affiliation, city, and state — exactly how you want them to appear — to: [email protected] . The final Resolution will be shared with lawmakers and college administrators.

CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’  weekly newsletter, written by Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

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