Friday, September 9, 2016

Comments regarding committee report published in Academe

Bob Turner
Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies

The July/August issue of Academe includes a committee report, “The History, Uses, and Abuses of Title IX” that reiterates some of the concerns that have been expressed in this blog over the past couple of years. In particular, the AAUP report argues 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…and by college and university administrators who are expected to oversee compliance measures.” The AAUP subcommittee that wrote the report also found evidence of “overzealousness on the part of administrators and instances of differential treatment of allegations of sexual misconduct.” The whole report is worth reading, but among the most worrisome findings is that “[o]verly broad interpretations of what constitutes a ‘hostile environment’ are increasingly undermining academic freedom, and the enforcement of Title IX does not adequately protect due-process rights and academic governance.” The report ends with a collection of recommendations to OCR, colleges and universities, and faculty members.

Perhaps Colgate is not participating in any of the actions that the AAUP finds problematic, but we need to be vigilant, and one of the key recommendations in the report is for faculty governance to be actively involved in Title IX implementation. Understanding that Colgate has to follow the law (which is not always the same thing as following the advice of our attorneys!), nonetheless I hope that we pay attention to the concerns expressed in the AAUP report when we create, revise, and implement Title IX policies on our campus.


Anonymous said...

While we might hope that Colgate is avoiding the problems in the AAUP's report about Title IX policies, the evidence points to the contrary:

Colgate has had three(!) lawsuits filed by students subject to EGP processes (one the college settled and two are ongoing; no other school this size has had such a high number); the federal Office of Civil Rights is currently investigating Colgate for racial bias in its EGP prosecutions; and FIRE has given Colgate a "Red" rating for its academic freedom/free speech policies on the basis of its stated EGP policies.

There is certainly reason for faculty to be very concerned.

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