Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 applies to all institutions in the United States receiving federal funds. The Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education “enforces” Title IX compliance in “16,500 local school districts, 7,000 postsecondary institutions, as well as charter schools, for-profit schools, libraries, and museums.” Title IX in its entirety:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Laudably intended to ensure equality of opportunity, Title IX initially did just that, and very effectively. Its scope and application has evolved, however, Title IX now wielded as a tool by social justice warriors on campus.
The American Association of University Professors was initially supportive (2011) as Title IX’s scope and application expanded:
On August 18, the AAUP wrote to the Department of Education to laud the department’s efforts to address systemic gender inequalities in the US educational system. The letter also raised two concerns about guidance issued in April by the department. First is the department’s suggestion that a “preponderance of the evidence” be the standard for determining whether sexual harassment has occurred. Given the seriousness of accusations of harassment and sexual violence and the potential for accusations, even false ones, to ruin a faculty member’s career, we believe that the “clear and convincing” standard of evidence is more appropriate.
Second is the potential violation of academic freedom for those who teach courses that directly address sex and sexuality, which can make some students uncomfortable but which may also be necessary for their education. Any training for faculty, staff, and students should explain the differences between educational content, harassment, and “hostile environments,” and a faculty member’s professional judgment must be protected.
The AAUP’s concerns were ignored so in 2015 it published the journal article “Title IX, Sexual Harassment, and Academic Freedom: What No One Seems to Understand”:
Universities and colleges all over the United States are currently revising and implementing policies concerning sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, under the generally expressed concern to comply with Title IX requirements. But there is a very basic problem of equivocation. Both “sexual harassment” and “sexual misconduct” are used in very different ways in different contexts, often by the same entity. The result is a mess in which members of campus communities cannot be sure of their obligations or protections, and which presents a serious threat to academic freedom.
As Title IX developed into a quickly metastasising cancer the AAUP (June 2016) went into near panic:
Executive Summary: The History, Uses, and Abuses of Title IX
This report, an evaluation of the history and current uses of Title IX, is the result of a joint effort by a subcommittee that included members of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure and the Committee on Women in the Academic Profession. The report identifies tensions between current interpretations of Title IX and the academic freedom essential for campus life to thrive. It finds that questions of free speech and academic freedom have been ignored in recent positions taken by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Education, which is charged with implementing Title IX, and by university administrators who are expected to oversee compliance measures.
While successful resolutions of Title IX suits are often represented as unqualified victories in the name of gender equality, this report finds that the current interpretation, implementation, and enforcement of Title IX has compromised the realization of meaningful educational goals that lead to sexually safe campuses. Since 2011, deployment of Title IX has also imperiled due-process rights and shared governance. This report thus emphasizes that compliance with the letter of the law is no guarantee of justice, gendered or otherwise.
The contemporary interpretation, implementation, and enforcement of Title IX threatens academic freedom and shared governance in ways that frustrate the statute’s stated goals. This occurs in part because the current interpretative scope of Title IX has narrowed to focus primarily on sexual harassment and assault on campus. This narrow focus is inconsistent with the original intent of the legislation, which Congress envisioned as protecting a range of educational opportunities for women, including access to higher education, athletics, career training and education, education for pregnant and parenting students, employment, the learning environment, math and science education, standardized testing, and technology.
Critically, the current focus of Title IX on sexual violations has also been accompanied by regulation that conflates sexual misconduct (including sexual assault) with sexual harassment based on speech. This has resulted in violations of academic freedom through the punishment of protected speech by faculty members. Recent interpretations of Title IX are characterized by an overly expansive definition of what amounts and kinds of speech create a “hostile environment” in violation of Title IX.
It is supremely ironic that the very professors – overwhelmingly leftists – who did more than any other group to create social justice warriors now lives in fear of their spawn.
The Title IX equivalent of the Salem witch hunts and burnings quickly spread to Canada and now threatens Australia, the Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Centre at the University of New South Wales partnering with The Hunting Ground Australia Project in the Strengthening Australian University Responses to Sexual Assault and Harassment Project.
For the uninitiated, The Hunting Ground is agit-prop billed as a documentary that has been shown, for profit, at universities around Australia. From promotional material for The Hunting Ground:
… maverick students Andrea Pino and Annie Clark – survivors who are taking matters into their own hands – ingeniously employing a gender equality law called ‘Title IX’ as a legal strategy to fight back and share their knowledge among a growing, unstoppable network of young women who will no longer be silent.
The legal frameworks governing Australian and American universities differ markedly. In Australia, responsibility for investigating reports of sexual violence primarily lies with State and Territory police forces. Australian universities have a more limited role to play in investigating allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and in collecting incident data, than their American counterparts, and there is no Australian equivalent of the Title IX mechanism utilised by student activists in the film.
Nonetheless, Australian universities have a responsibility to create a safe, secure and nondiscriminatory environment for staff and students.
So Madman Entertainment brings the discredited documentary to Australia hoping to make money, offers it to SJW dominated universities and provides an unspecified amount of “seed money” toward a university sexual harassment and assault survey. Universities, which can hardly resist an effort to expose “sex abuse” on campus, and the Human Rights Centre and the Human Rights Commission, keen to expose predatory males and victim females, jump on board. Madman makes money; the Human Rights Centre’s prestige is enhanced; and the Human Rights Commission expands its power of intervention.
A press release from the HRCommission makes it clear that a swift and dramatic intervention is required:
The Australian Human Rights Commission is unwavering in our commitment to ensuring the national project on sexual assault and sexual harassment at universities presents an accurate picture of the current situation at Australia’s universities and leads to immediate action.
At the heart of the concerns raised by students and reported on in Fairfax Media on Tuesday is a sense of frustration at the slow pace of change. We absolutely share these concerns.
Australians must wise up: giving authority to intolerant, authoritarian leftists will ultimately lead to the Hell at the end of the road of claimed good intentions.