Title IX Rewind

Kali Jerrard

CounterCurrent: Week of 05/06/2024

Activism, free speech, anti-Semitism, divestment, “From the River to the Sea,” and more are phrases dominating higher education headlines after protests erupted across college and university campuses nationwide a few weeks ago. And these protests have yet to slow. But other major happenings are going on in the higher education sphere and we would be remiss if they were missed in the frenzy of campus protests.

First and foremost, Title IX has been weaponized by the Biden administration to “promote fringe sexual politics,” says Teresa R. Manning, policy director at the National Association of Scholars. The new regulation issued by the Biden Education Department “transforms Title IX from a relatively benign equal-opportunity law into a weapon for sex-based identity politics. It removes due process protection for students accused of sexual misconduct and favors gender ideology over free speech and, ironically, over women's sports programs that owe their existence to Title IX itself.” This is a slap in the face to women athletes who will face mentally unstable men—who believe themselves to be women—in the locker room and on the field. But not only that, the new regulation also takes away due process in cases of accused sexual misconduct and concedes precious ground to gender ideology activists.

The new regulation undos what Trump’s education secretary Betsy DeVos accomplished in 2020. Her efforts remedied a mess that harkened back to the 2011 “Dear Colleague Letter” which defined sexual misconduct as not only quid pro quo propositions, but also as a “hostile environment”—a too subjective definition that was used to justify wrongful accusations against students and professors. The Biden update to Title IX reverts the law to its former messiness and adds its own modern twist from the fringe. 

Congress should put an end to this ludicrous policy before it takes effect in August. 

The Biden administration is pressing forward with its agenda to address student loan forgiveness and expand government-funded student aid. Despite the Supreme Court's rejection of their broad plan to forgive loan debt last summer, the administration has successfully forgiven $143.6 billion in loans for approximately four million borrowers. “How is this possible?,” you may ask. Well, according to Andrew Gillen, the Biden administration is forgiving loans through many loan forgiveness plans and claiming that existing laws give the administration the freedom to add new laws to forgive even more debt—all placing the burden on taxpayers. The administration has no plans to stop plowing forward. Gillen covers the former and current updates to this ongoing situation and will continue to update monthly.

On the topic of government-funded student aid, specifically the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), schools—and more importantly students—are still waiting on the Department of Education (ED) to get it together. Richard Cordray, chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid took the fall for the FAFSA fiasco and stepped down in late April. His resignation alone did not fix the issues surrounding the program, but now there might be hope. The ED announced a $50 million dollar program to provide relief and support to students, their families, and schools. This program “will help schools and organizations add advisers, counselors and coaches to support students and families complete their applications through extended evening, weekend and summer hours.” Perhaps this will be the answer to a 24 percent decrease in student applications and concerns of low attendance rates in the fall, but I am not holding my breath. 

In other news, California has decided to continue in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants. Undocumented students may also receive state financial aid through the California Dream Act Application. It is one story to provide resources to students who seek an education in America through visa status or other proper means, it is another to do what California has done.  

And in Illinois, the state government plans to fund public universities on the basis of race. You heard that right. The more minority, low-income, and rural students a university enrolls, the more funding the institution “deserves,” according to Illinois Commission on Equitable Public Funding proposals. This would effectively enshrine racial discrimination into government policy should Illinois get away with this, states Neetu Arnold. 

We are rolling with the punches.

There is good news. MIT has dropped the use of diversity statements in faculty hiring, the first—hopefully not the only—elite private university to do so. Is Sally Kornbluth attempting to atone for her besmirched reputation? Perhaps, but it is a boon for higher education nevertheless. It is a unique situation in which the change was prompted by internal reform, compared to the plethora of other schools which were told to rid their hiring processes of diversity statements by their respective state governments. “It is momentous,” says John Sailer. “It’s very possible that more private universities, and state universities in blue states, will eventually follow MIT’s lead for one basic reason: a significant number of faculty from across the political spectrum simply cannot stand mandatory DEI statements.” A small light piercing the darkness surrounding higher education.

Until next week.

CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by the NAS Staff. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

Photo by Trekandphoto on Adobe Stock

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