Search Results for ‘"dear colleague" college’

FIRE backs suit over Dear Colleague letter

With help from FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), a former University of Virginia law student has sued the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights arguing that it violated the law in its notorious 2011 Dear Colleague letter requiring many campuses to roll back the procedural rights of students accused of sexual assault. The John Doe complainant argues that the department should at a minimum have put the policy shifts proclaimed in the letter through the notice-and-comment process prescribed for rulemaking, rather than in effect proclaiming them by decree through subregulatory guidance. The letter affected the student’s own case, he argues, because of comments from the retired judge deciding the case that she viewed the evidence as falling short of a clear and convincing threshold, the standard formerly in use, and ruled against him only because the university had complied with federal guidance by dropping its standard to preponderance of the evidence. [Susan Svrluga, Washington Post; Hans Bader, CEI]

School and college roundup

  • Far-reaching, legally dubious new mandate: 37-page “Dear Colleague” letter from Washington launches new “education equity initiative” directing local schools to ensure all children “equal access to educational resources” [R. Shep Melnick, Education Next and WSJ]
  • “‘Tag is not banned,’ [the school district] insisted.” [Fred Barbash, Washington Post; Lenore Skenazy; Mercer Island, Wash.]
  • University of Texas now blurs racial preferences into “holistic” admission review, Supreme Court should take look [Ilya Shapiro]
  • Feds vs. due process: Michigan State case goes well beyond itself-notorious OCR Dear Colleague letter [KC Johnson; related Hans Bader on Tufts and other cases] Emily Yoffe: not so fast on latest “one in five” study [Slate; more, Stuart Taylor Jr.] “You cannot build justice for women on injustice for men.” [powerful Wendy McElroy speech debating Jessica Valenti]
  • Trashing copies of a student paper to keep content from being read? 171 Wesleyan students/alums: “Go for it!” [Popehat, Scott Greenfield] “Editorial independence remains a huge priority for us” says the Wesleyan Argus editor. Doesn’t sound as if her adversaries see it that way [Robby Soave, Reason]
  • Robert Klitzman: Institutional Review Boards at research institutions could benefit from transparency and respect for precedent [via Zachary Schrag]
  • Donald Trump’s battle with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over proprietary “Trump University” [Emma Brown, Washington Post]

Beyond the U. Va. scandal: will courts disallow feds’ rule by “Dear Colleague” letter?

The crackdown on college grievance procedures by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) paved the way for such developments as the administrative panic at the University of Virginia following Rolling Stone’s bogus assault article. I’ve got some thoughts at Cato about how the OCR crackdown grows out of a type of federal agency power grab — rule by “Dear Colleague” letter, sometimes known as sub-regulatory guidance or stealth regulation — that did not begin with this issue. As federal agencies have learned how to wield broad regulatory power without having to go through the formal regulatory process with its legal protections for affected parties, the courts have begun to apply skeptical scrutiny — which could open up one avenue of challenging the federal guidelines. Earlier on subregulatory guidance/stealth regulation here, here, etc. More: related from John Graham and James Broughel, Mercatus.

Higher education roundup

Title IX campus regs: the new proposal

The Education Department has published for public comment proposed changes in regulations to Title IX on campus discipline and sexual misconduct; its Obama administration predecessors had decreed major changes in the same law through a “Dear Colleague” letter without public notice or comment. The new proposals differ on some points from draft versions circulated earlier. Cathy Young and Robby Soave provide overviews, and Soave writes on how response from the ACLU left much to be desired. FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) has an initial statement (Samantha Harris), a more detailed analysis (Susan Kruth), and a letter to Senate Democrats correcting some misconceptions. And John McGinnis says both sides are getting it wrong: the feds shouldn’t be regulating college misconduct codes in the first place [Law and Liberty]

Campus climate roundup

  • Prof. Laura Kipnis, previously investigated by Northwestern over an essay she wrote saying there are too many Title IX investigations, wrote a book about the experience and that touched off yet another Title IX investigation of her [Jeannie Suk Gersen, The New Yorker]
  • Groups demand that outspoken social conservative Prof. Amy Wax not be allowed to teach first-year civil procedure at University of Pennsylvania Law School [Caron/TaxProf] How to evaluate claims that professors who say controversial things must step away from the classroom because they can’t be trusted to treat/grade students fairly? [Eugene Volokh]
  • Meanwhile, co-author of “bourgeois culture” op-ed, Larry Alexander of the University of San Diego, finds his dean distinctly unsupportive [Tom Smith, Caron/TaxProf roundup and more]
  • “Stay Woke” and allyship: insider view of American University’s new required first-year diversity courses [Minding the Campus] So revealing that an AAUW chapter would celebrate cancellation of this American U event [Elizabeth Nolan Brown]
  • Anonymous denunciation makes things better: president of Wright State University in Ohio “is encouraging students to anonymously report any violence and hate speech that might occur on campus.” [AP/WOUB] Student protesters called on Evergreen State “to target STEM faculty in particular for ‘antibias’ training” [Heather Heying, WSJ]
  • From this excerpt, upcoming Shep Melnick book on Title IX, OCR and federal control of colleges sounds top-notch [Law and Liberty] What to expect as Education Department reconsiders its former Dear Colleague policies [KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor, Jr., Weekly Standard]

Yes, feds need to rethink campus sexual misconduct policies

A series of tweets I did about Thursday’s major announcement on Title IX policy from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos:

I went on to explain that it all starts with the Department of Education’s OCR (Office for Civil Rights) 2011 Dear Colleague letter, and the further guidance that followed, which I wrote up here.

That’s a quote by Yoffe from a California Law Review article by Jacob Gersen and Jeannie Suk Gersen previously noted in this space here and here.

The courageous Harvard Law professors who called for a rethink of the Obama-era policy — Janet Halley, Elizabeth Bartholet, Jeannie Suk Gersen and Nancy Gertner — were profiled in a recent issue of The Crimson and in earlier coverage in this space here and here.

More coverage of DeVos’s speech and initiative, in which she pledged to use appropriate notice-and-comment methods rather than Dear Colleague guidance to introduce changes (“The era of ‘rule by letter’ is over”): Christina Hoff Sommers/Chronicle of Higher Education, Benjamin Wermund/Politico, Jeannie Suk Gersen/New Yorker, KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor, Jr./WSJ and cases going against universities, Johnson/City Journal, Bret Stephens/NYT (“no campus administrator was going to risk his federal funds for the sake of holding dear the innocence of students accused of rape”), Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Hans Bader/CEI, Scott Greenfield and more (no basis in law to begin with), Robby Soave/Reason and more.

President Trump: “No federal funds” for Berkeley?

A President might not find it simple or straightforward to use direct executive orders to cut off funds to universities that tolerate disruption of speech or exclude speakers based on the content of their speech. But the power that the Department of Education and allied agencies have gathered to themselves over university life has steadily mounted, often against little resistance from the universities themselves, as in the Title IX instance. That gives an administration plenty of handles to make its will known, a process previewed in October, as to Trump, in a Chronicle of Higher Education piece. It quotes Alexander Holt, an education-policy analyst at New America, saying: “I could see a Trump administration going crazy on these ‘Dear Colleague’ letters.”

Two years ago I cited several examples of rule by Dear Colleague letter, as I called it, in this area. (More here.) And I noted one big problem with invoking judicial oversight to check the federal government’s power:

It may be difficult to persuade a college to serve as a test case, given the annihilating possibility of a federal funds cutoff as the penalty of its presumption.

More: cross-posted, slightly expanded, at Cato at Liberty. And FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) has now weighed in on last night’s events at Berkeley surrounding an invited speech by Milo Yiannopoulos. On the federal funding issue, FIRE states its view as follows:

It is true that, under current law, public universities that enforce blatantly unconstitutional speech codes and private universities that violate their own promises of free speech do not face the same potential loss of federal funding for censoring campus speech that they do for violating other federal civil rights laws and regulations. However, FIRE has so far seen no evidence that Berkeley as an institution made any effort to silence Yiannopoulos.

Those who engage in violent and/or destructive protests are ultimately responsible for their unlawful behavior and may be subject to arrest and prosecution by law enforcement. To punish an educational institution for the criminal behavior of those not under its control and in contravention of its policies, whether through the loss of federal funds or through any other means, would be deeply inappropriate and most likely unlawful.

Campus climate roundup

  • Department of Justice: we’re going to use that Dear Colleague Title IX letter as a basis for prosecution, and colleges are going to need to crack down on speech if they want to stay in compliance [Eugene Volokh, Scott Greenfield, and FIRE, on University of New Mexico case] A brief history of how we got here from the Dear Colleague letter [Justin Dillon and Matt Kaiser, L.A. Times; my Commentary piece three years ago anticipating the basics] Why won’t even a single university challenge this stuff in court? [Coyote, earlier]
  • Dangers of “safe spaces”: Mike Bloomberg’s Michigan commencement address is getting noticed [Bloomberg View, Deadline Detroit, Soave] “Slogans Have Replaced Arguments” [John McWhorter]
  • Compulsory chapel will make no provision for adherents of dissenting sects: Oregon State plans training incoming freshmen in “social justice learning,” “diversity,” and “inclusivity.” [Robby Soave]
  • Running various departments at George Mason U. along lines recommended by Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”: no problem. Naming law school after Antonin Scalia: that might politicize things [Michael Greve via Bainbridge]
  • USC cancels visiting panel of gaming industry stars because it’s all-male [Heat Street]
  • Harvard aims sanctions at students who join off-campus, unofficial single-sex clubs [The Crimson, FIRE, background Althouse, Greenfield]
  • Margot Honecker, hated DDR education minister, filled schools with indoctrination, informants. Glad that era’s over [Washington Post, Telegraph, SkyNews obituaries]

Campus climate roundup

  • Some profs still deny: “The Glaring Evidence That Free Speech Is Threatened on Campus” [Conor Friedersdorf]
  • Student demands at Western Washington University would “create an almost cartoonishly autocratic liberal thought police on campus” [Robby Soave] After University of Kansas professor tried awkwardly to discuss her own white privilege, students took offense and things haven’t gone well for her [Robby Soave: update, Althouse]
  • Feds equivocate on whether notorious campus “Dear Colleague” letter has force of law [Hans Bader, CEI; George Leef, Pope Center; me on the letter in 2013]
  • Yale expels the captain of its basketball team, and KC Johnson has some questions Minding the Campus, Academic Wonderland]
  • I wanted to scream about insensitive canoe discourse in Canada and there was no one to hear me but the loons [CBC] And an instant classic: feminist glaciology framework for a more just and equitable science and “human-ice interactions” [Sage Journals; U. of Oregon, part of $412K NSF grant]
  • Lose that worldview, citizen: attending public Oklahoma university requires “changing our worldview to accommodate others’ experiences of oppression.” [Audra Brulc via @DouglasLevene]