The U.S. Department of Education recently opened an unusual Title IX inquiry against Georgetown University: The DOE’s Office of Civil Rights “will investigate whether the University expresses an unlawful preference for women in its employment and hiring practices.”
In today’s America, diversity bureaucrats control academia (even though they are anything but diverse in politics and sex). Millennial, antinomian hate against the legacy of “dead white men” in the Western canon has become the norm. The political monoculture of American academia is a synthesis of communism and feminism, taught across the nation in temples of nihilism called Women’s Studies.
Women make up the majority of undergraduate students, graduate students, and the college-educated labor force today. Women also constitute the majority of STEM students, medical students, and law students. Yet rampant discrimination against the male minority was the norm under the Obama administration. According to research published at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, the Department of Education was 2,400 percent more likely to side with female parties than male parties in adversarial proceedings (2011-19).
Elite colleges such as Cornell offer numerous support and advocacy programs for women but nothing equivalent for men, who are the minority. The lack of due process in college sexual harassment tribunals has received widespread and bipartisan criticism over the years from legal and academic experts. Critics include The Federalist Society, Heritage Foundation, Edmund Jr. Brown, NCHERM, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, American College of Trial Lawyers, and the Reason Foundation.
Progress in Title IX Precedent
Advocates have been struggling against this problem for years, often citing the very law that caused it: Title IX. Seminal rulings include an opinion from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which prohibits discrimination against men even in the absence of malice and even for a short time; an opinion from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which mandates cross-examination in sexual harassment disputes; an opinion from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which says Title IX tribunals fall short of what “even a high school must provide to a student facing a days-long suspension” in terms of due process; and an opinion from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which dismisses the idea that past discrimination against women can justify discrimination against the male minority in today’s America.
There has also been progress in administrative precedent. The Department of Education accepted a class-action complaint on behalf of males during 2016. The department also published a widely quoted decision against Wesley College, which affirmed due process rights for the accused under Title IX. Likewise, a Title IX precedent against the University of Southern California (which challenged female-only scholarships) triggered many similar complaints across the nation.
A different precedent against Tulane University declared the illegality of various female-only programs. And now comes a new ruling that expands the purview of these civil rights investigations: a Title IX inquiry against Georgetown University. (Disclosure: The investigation was opened in response to a complaint I submitted.)
Problems with the Georgetown Letter
The Georgetown precedent is a significant milestone. The Department of Education has declared its intent to outlaw employment and recruitment preferences which favor the female majority. This means STEM departments which favor hiring women will be in legal trouble, for example.
The ruling also declares that women’s centers are legally suspect, since no institution to date has ever offered anything equivalent for the unfair sex. (Women’s centers are political advocacy units, funded at the expense of taxpayers. They should not be mistaken for programs that offer vital health services to women.) The Trump administration deserves credit for this ruling, a significant accomplishment in terms of curbing Title IX and restoring the law unto its original simplicity. Yet the USDOE Georgetown letter includes two main problems.
The ruling exempts Women’s Studies from Title IX based on the argument that “curricular materials” are exempt from civil rights inquiry. This argument is weak, inconsistent, and incorrect. The argument is weak because it relies upon a single subclause of Title IX in the legislative text: 34 C.F.R. §106.42. Other subclauses of Title IX, such as 34 CFR §106.36(c), prohibit “appraisal and counseling materials” that cause disproportionate enrollment. Women’s Studies programs overwhelmingly employ female professors for the benefit of overwhelmingly female students.
The argument is also inconsistent because the Department of Education is monitoring curricular materials under Title VI (a similar civil rights law) while refusing to do so under Title IX. This capricious distinction is against legislative intent, since Congress made little meaningful distinction between sexual discrimination and racial discrimination in qualifying the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (117 CONG. Rec. 30,156 (1971).
Last but not least, the argument is incorrect. The department has used Title IX to micromanage curricular and training materials before. Indeed, even Obama appointees once issued a resolution letter, dissolving female-only STEM programs for using language that excluded male students.
There is another problem with the ruling. I wrote the complaint in part as a response to the statements of Christine Fair, a Georgetown professor who received nationwide condemnation for her irrational vitriol. Fair’s statements called for violence and desecration against a class of human beings routinely demonized in American academia: men of Caucasian descent. “Castrate their corpses and feed them to pigs” is the kind of hate we have come to expect from hyperpartisan professors.
The Ed Department’s Paradox Has No Simple Explanation
Negative generalizations against any other class of people warrant swift retribution in American academe, even when they are much more temperate in tone. The Department of Education once opined that the phrase “angry black woman” is adequate to constitute a racially hostile environment (2016). The department is also expanding the scope of Title VI to apply a novel and broad definition of antisemitism, a move which the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has criticized. Yet the letter notifying of the Georgetown investigation is silent about Fair.
The Supreme Court has condemned discrimination against men and people of Caucasian descent before. This is common sense, consistent with the spirit of the Equal Protection Clause. The Department of Education’s unfortunate record raises some interesting questions: Can we now conclude this federal agency is violating Title IX and Title VI? No reasonable person can argue that “angry black woman” is more offensive than “castrate their corpses and feed them to pigs.” Why should the former statement constitute a racial and sexual offense, while the latter remains unpunished? This is an unlawful paradox with no simple explanation.
Plato maintained simplicity is the best evidence of eternity. St. Augustine classified simplicity as an attribute of God. Laws must be consistent, rational, and as simple as possible, lest they fail to inspire fealty and suasion. There is now an originalist and textualist majority in the Supreme Court of the United States, and we can only wonder what they will think about the paradoxes of the Georgetown letter.