The American Association of University Professors (AAUP), which has a record of sadly weak defenses of faculty rights in response to the feds’ efforts under Title IX to restrict due process accorded to persons accused of misconduct at universities (see last paragraph of my piece from 2013), might possibly show a little more spine in a pending report now in draft form. Citing a string of episodes, including what happened to Prof. Laura Kipnis at Northwestern as well as many that are less well known, the report acknowledges that the current Washington interpretation of Title IX “has had a chilling effect on academic freedom and speech” and “that the emphasis on complying with federal law has led to some professors being investigated by universities for making statements that some students find offensive but that the report says should be protected.” [Anemona Hartocollis/New York Times, Lizzie Crocker/Daily Beast, Scott Greenfield, Peter Wood/Minding the Campus] More from the NYT:
The association says the government should allow universities to use a “clear and convincing” standard of evidence in their internal reviews of sexual harassment complaints rather than the less strict “preponderance of evidence” standard now required. …The report says that the federal crackdown has poisoned the traditional relationship between faculty and students by turning professors from informal confidants into official enforcers.
Plus, new paper being widely talked about, “The Sex Bureaucracy,” by Jacob Gersen of Harvard and Jeannie Suk of Harvard Law, forthcoming in the California Law Review, abstract:
We are living in a new sex bureaucracy. Saliently decriminalized in the past decades, sex has at the same time become accountable to bureaucracy. In this Article, we focus on higher education to tell the story of the sex bureaucracy. The story is about the steady expansion of regulatory concepts of sex discrimination and sexual violence to the point that the regulated area comes to encompass ordinary sex. The mark of bureaucracy is procedure and organizational form. Over time, federal prohibitions against sex discrimination and sexual violence have been interpreted to require educational institutions to adopt particular procedures to respond, prevent, research, survey, inform, investigate, adjudicate, and train. The federal bureaucracy essentially required nongovernmental institutions to create mini-bureaucracies, and to develop policies and procedures that are subject to federal oversight. That oversight is not merely, as currently assumed, of sexual harassment and sexual violence, but also of sex itself. We call this “bureaucratic sex creep” — the enlargement of bureaucratic regulation of sexual conduct that is voluntary, non-harassing, nonviolent, and does not harm others. At a moment when it is politically difficult to criticize any undertaking against sexual assault, we are writing about the bureaucratic leveraging of sexual violence and harassment policy to regulate ordinary sex. …