- Sexual Harassment Roundup
- Yale fined for Clery Act violations
- OCR finds fault with Forest Hills
- Yale assesses campus climate
- Triathlon Poised to Be Newest NCAA Emerging Sport
- Sexual Assault Complaint Wave Continues: Dartmouth To Be Next
- FGCU earns all-sports trophy
- Beloit school district proceeding with single-sex classrooms
- Resolution Agreement Binds Montana to Better Address Sexual Assault
- What's happening with sexual assault complaints
- CUNY Settles Pregnancy Discrimination Complaint
- Carolina Coastal cuts track
- Students raising visibility around sexual assault
- Settlement Ends Ongoing Title IX Litigation Against Quinnipiac
- Plans for New Athletic Complex Disputed in North Reading, Massachusetts
- Madison Area Technical College Agrees to Enhance Women's Athletics
- Study Correlates Sex-Segergated Classes and Gender Stereotyping
- More Sexual Assault Complaints Filed
- Swarthmore Students File Complaint Over Sexual Assault Reporting
- Maryland Legislature Appropriates $2.3 M for Softball Stadium at Towson
- OCR Investigations Underway In...
- Lawsuit Challenges Softball Fields in Batavia, NY
- Boston University drops wrestling as varsity sport
- Article Examines Standing Issue in Title IX Case
- Maryland Governor Restores Towson Baseball
A number of courts have recently issued decisions applying Title IX in the context of sexual harassment. Here is a summary: * A federal judge in California dismissed claims against a school district stemming from the harassment of two sisters who are Palestinian-American and practicing Muslims. Harassment included name-calling, which the court said was not actionable, and attempts by male students to peek under their hijab. According to the court, the complaint failed to allege in sufficient detail attempts by the students or their parents to notify authorities in the school district. Al-Rifai v. Willows Unified School Dist., 2013 WL 2102838 (E.D. Cal. May 14, 2013). * In Oklahoma, a judge denied a school districts motion to dismiss the claim of a former student that the school district had responded with deliberate indifference to knowledge that she was being sexually abused by the band director. The complaint sufficiently alleged that a school official with authority over the teacher had received enough information, including a report from another student about inappropriate physical contact between the plaintiff and the teacher. Thompson v. Independent School Dist. No. I-1 of Stephens County, 2013 WL 1915058 (W.D.Okla., May 08, 2013). * A teacher alleged that he was fired for reporting an act of sexual abuse between students that occurred in the boys locker room. Finding sufficient evidence from which a jury could conclude that Title IX-prohibited retaliation had occurred, the court denied the schools motion for summary judgment. First, there was sufficient evidence that the teacher reasonably believed that what he was reporting amounted to harassment in violation of Title IX, either because it was sexual in nature or because the victim could have been targeted for his gender nonconformity. Second, there was evidence to suggest that the schools stated reason for firing him -- that he had not adequately supervised the locker room during the assault -- was pretext for a retaliatory motive. At the time he was fired, the school official who fired him was not yet aware that the teacher had not been supervising the locker room during the incident. There was also evidence to suggest that school officials feared negative publicity if it investigated the incident and punished the perpetrators. Corral v. UNO Charter School Network, Inc., 2013 WL 1855824 (N.D.Ill., May 01, 2013). * A teacher prevailed at trial in a retaliation case against a school, having convinced a jury that he was fired for reporting his supervisors sexual relationship with a student. On a motion to determine damages, the court ordered that the teacher be reinstated, and that he receive back pay with interest. Lalowski v. Corinthian Schools, Inc., 2013 WL 1788353 (N.D.Ill., April 26, 2013). * A student can proceed to trial against Alcorn State University, having produced sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment to support his claim that a professor gave him a failing grade after the student rebuffed his sexual advance. Chestang v. Alcorn State University, 2013 WL 1624401 (S.D.Miss., April 15, 2013)
The Department of Education has fined Yale University a total of $165,000 for various violations of the Clery Act. The fines are the total sum from multiple violations in the early 2000s when the university did not report four separate sexual assaults and did not include the Yale-New Haven Hospital as part of the campus thus omitting from their self-reported crime statistics any events that took place there. The news of the fines comes at a time when college students across the country are accusing their respective administrators of similar violations. (See our previous posts about Occidental, Swarthmore, Amherst, and Dartmouth.) The fines are the maximum allotted under the law, but they are not the equivalent of some of the large jury awards we have seen in the past decade from Title IX cases. And so it remains to be seen whether this will deter other institutions from similar misreporting. Yale has apparently asked for a reconsideration of the fines. Not because they cannot pay them, I suspect, but rather because there is a certain admission of guilt in doing so. When the university entered into a voluntary resolution agreement last year with OCR over Title IX complaints related to the hostile sexual climate at Yale and the policies and procedures in place to address incidents of sexual violence and harassment, it meant there was no finding of wrongdoing. I assume that Yale wants to keep its official record clean.
We recently wrote about a lawsuit filed by a student who attended school in the Forest Hills School District (in Michigan). The sexual assault at the center of this lawsuit also prompted a complaint to OCR which has investigated Forest Hills and found that the district did not properly investigate the claims of two female students who alleged sexual assault at the hands of a single assailant. Also, procedures to address allegations of sexual assault and harassment are inadequate, the agency determined. The superintendent is taking issue with OCRs report. He has stated that investigators never interviewed him or the Title IX coordinator.
As part of a process of regular follow-up to complaints of a negative sexual climate and confusing sexual assault policies and procedures two years ago, Yale University has issued a campus climate report that shows some of the steps the university has taken since 2011 have been effective. Most effective has been the streamlining of policies and procedures that address incidents (and their reporting) of sexual assault and harassment. Students who were surveyed reported that they felt confident they could access the system for reporting sexual assault and harassment. Many could name an office on campus that deals with these issues. In short, awareness is up. This is good-- --because what remains unclear is how much the climate has actually changed. So while mechanisms and personnel are in place and have been well-advertised, the need to actually use them may not have decreased. Climate is more difficult to measure, but something Yale--and every school--needs to pursue. What are the proactive measures Yale is taking to decrease incidents of sexual assault and harassment? Remembers, the resources and mechanisms Yale has put in place and/or streamlined should have already been there. Thats the law. And it was a reaction to an OCR complaint filed by students which ended in a voluntary resolution agreement. One of the ongoing issues is the lack of female faculty in some departments. Also, the unique needs of graduate students should be addressed. Grad students work closely with faculty members and rely on them for progressing in their degree program and for help in getting a job afterwards. In other words, there is large power imbalance and plenty of cases to suggest that grad students who complain about inappropriate relationships with or behavior from faculty members experience significant backlash. Yale will continue to assess campus climate. I hope they will report on specific measures to curb sexual assault and harassment and how they are measuring climate.
The NCAA website reports that its Committee for Womens Athletics has proposed to add triathlon to the list of Emerging Sports for Women. The Emerging Sports list promotes the development of new collegiate athletic opportunities for women by allowing them to count towards NCAA requirements even in their provisional status. If forty institutions add the emerging sport in a ten year period, it becomes an official NCAA championship sport. Ice hockey and rowing are examples of womens sports that have "graduated" from the Emerging Sports list. Sand volleyball is the most recent sport added to the list, in 2009. The CWA based its triathlon proposal on letters from a dozen institutions that have expressed plans to add or at least strongly consider adding triathlon as a sport in the near future. These twelve schools are: Air Force, Arizona, Denver, Drake, Monmouth, UNC-Asheville, Northern Iowa, and Stanford in Division I; Adams State and Colorado-Colorado Springs in Division II; and Maine-Farmington and Marymount in Division III. Another good indication of the sports popularity is that over 150 club programs already offer participation opportunities for female triathletes, and that USA Triathlon, the sports governing body, already holds a collegiate competition. Supporters of varsity triathlon advocate that the sport is easy to add, by simply adding a college wave to existing triathlon events. That said, it will be important for athletic directors to keep in mind that in order to count for Title IX purposes, the sport would have to ensure a similar level of college-varsity level competition that other sports receive. The most recent Quinnipiac decision, for example, refused to let the university count rugby, notwithstanding its inclusion in the Emerging Sports list, because the team competed mostly against clubs and did not have enough varsity competition. Athletic departments should not get the idea that they can simply shuttle a group of athletes to a nearby USAT event and then count them for Title IX purposes as members of the schools triathlon team. The sport will need a competitive season, dedicated coaching and resources, and all of the other indicia of varsity status that institutions bestow upon their other athletic teams.
An article in yesterdays edition of the student newspaper at Dartmouth College suggests that Dartmouth may be the next to be targeted by a complaint to the Office for Civil Rights over its polices and practices for addressing campus sexual assault. Student activists who filed recent complaints against Swarthmore and UNC are quoted as expecting Dartmouth students and alumni to follow suit in the near future. It is no surprise that Dartmouth students would have connected with the growing network of students promoting sexual assault awareness and compliance with Title IX and Clery, in light of their controversial protest over the colleges sexual assault problem during a recent prospective students weekend. I too was interviewed for this article, and shared my observations on the apparent momentum of sexual assault-related compliance efforts, as evidenced by the recent spate of sexual assault complaints, along with the recent resolution of an earlier complaint against the University of Montana. I expressed my hope that we may be at or near the tipping point for individual, institution-focused compliance efforts to effectively deter all colleges and universities from continuing to engage in the kinds of practices that allow campus sexual assault to thrive. For example, Inside Higher Education published yesterday about Otterbein Universitys recent decision to voluntarily curtail its practice of asking victims and witnesses in sexual assault proceedings to sign a statement many perceived as a nondisclosure agreement, which is in conflict with the universitys obligation to report accurate crime statistics and conceal sexual assault. Said the reporter, "The situation illustrates the importance of having clear, well-publicized procedures for sexual assault investigations, experts said, but also is yet another example of how ... it’s students and not administrators who are initiating policy changes these days."
Womens athletics at Florida Gulf Coast University has experienced quite a few problems in recent years. Problems with discrimination and equity that resulted in multiple lawsuits and settlements that we followed extensively on this blog. We are choosing to look at FGCUs recent winning of the Atlantic Sun Conferences womens all-sports trophy as indicative of (perhaps) a positive change in the athletic department climate. Good things come when you practice equity!
In March we noted that the ACLU was contesting the School District of Beloits (WI) use of single-sex classrooms in several of its schools. But the school board and superintendent have decided to maintain these classrooms used at two of the districts middle schools and have expressed confidence in their reasoning and ability to do so. The board plans to show the ACLU that there is a compelling interest to keeping the classrooms, which are used for several subjects. The district will produce data about the success of the classrooms. The superintendent said parents are being given a choice, however, about whether their children will participate in these single-sex classrooms.
The Department of Justice and the Department of Educations Office for Civil Rights recently concluded their joint investigation of the University of Montana, which had commenced last May in response to claims that the University failed to adequately address reported incidents of sexual assault on campus. In the investigation findings, the government agencies noted that the University had already undertaken many efforts to change policies, practices, and culture around sexual assault -- including, for example, the mandatory online training wed blogged about last summer. But, they determined, these efforts did not constitute "sufficient effective action to fully eliminate a sexually hostile environment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects." One problem was the Universitys confusing maze of sexual harassment and sexual assault policies -- 8 of them! -- which did not clearly coordinate with or cross reference to each other, and which use inconsistent definitions and reporting procedures. The policies failed to adequately cover the broad array of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment not rising to the level of sexual assault, nor did they adequately cover off-campus conduct. Another problem was that the University did not distribute to students information on how to file a grievance, and it was hard to find relevant information on the universitys website (some of which is filed under "human resources," implying that it does not pertain to students). The lack of clear requirements regarding grievances has created much confusion among students about whom it was necessary to report to in order to trigger a university investigation and disciplinary process. Additionally, the government found that the universitys disciplinary process was inadequate for ensuring victims rights under Title IX. For one reason, it is lengthy -- providing perpetrators up to five opportunities to appeal before receiving disciplinary action. This violates the laws requirement to resolve sexual assault claims promptly. Also, the disciplinary process required the ongoing participation of the victim, when under Title IX, a universitys obligation to investigate and respond to sexual assault is not contingent on the victims involvement. The government also found incidents in which the University failed to take interim measures to keep victims safe, such as changing the students academic schedule or living situation. The preponderance of evidence standard, which is supposed to govern disciplinary procedures involving sexual assault, is not consistently stated throughout the universitys policy. The disciplinary procedures also give more rights, such as the right to question witnesses and the right to appeal, to the accused, when Title IX clearly requires that the victim and accused have equal rights in the disciplinary process. To resolve these shortcomings, the University has entered into a resolution agreement, which the government is calling a "blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country to protect students from sexual harassment and assault," that requires the University to correct the problems identified in its policies and procedures for addressing campus sexual assault and harassment, including by creating better, more easily accessed resources for students. The university must also regularly assess the campus climate regarding sexual assault, and provide mandatory training to students to ensure that they recognize sexual assault and harassment when it occurs, and that they know how to report it. The agreement also requires the University to better train its Title IX Coordinator as well as other campus personnel who deal with sexual assault. The Universitys campus police force has also entered a resolution agreement to address its shortcomings in response to reports of sexual assault. The Department of Justices investigation of the Missoula Police Department and Missoula County Attorneys Office, for its similar alleged deficiencies remains ongoing. The timing of this resolution corresponds to an uptick in complaints, by students, against universities for failing to adequately address campus sexual assault. With increasing public awareness and attention to the issue, it was smart of the government to offer these comprehensive findings as a "blueprint" for others to follow, since the findings against Montana are by no means unique.
At Occidental College in California, administrators are moving quickly to remedy the campus climate that inspired students to openly protest the way the college handles sexual assault cases. The president announced that a search was on for a Title IX coordinator ( a position that should already exist, by the way). The school will also be implementing recommendations from two experts the college hired in the wake of the complaints. Over 100 members of the faculty issued an open letter vowing to work to change the campus climate. On the other side of the country, Dartmouth College continues to deal with the repercussions of the very visible protest a group of current students held during prospective students weekend. The college cancelled classes for a day the week following the protest in order to address some of the issues raised. Programming, including speeches and open forums, was held ago for a day in order to hold forums and workshops about the issues protesters raised. But the effectiveness of this somewhat last-minute move has been questioned. Additionally, the initial protesters and others unrelated to the protest at all are receiving threats--some of which are based on sexual orientation and race--in various online forums. In short, the issue of respectful dialogue remains. Directly south of Hanover in Amherst, students continue to press the administration at Amherst College to institute--and be transparent about--sexual assault policies. In late April, as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, students held an on-campus protest objecting to the leniency the college has historically engaged in when it dealt with perpetrators of sexual assault and their lack of input into new policies. Though the Title IX committee has two spots for student representatives, only one is currently filled. Students are also upset that a draft of the new policies has not been released.
The pregnancy discrimination complaint against Manhattan Community College (part of the CUNY system) has reportedly settled. The complaint, as we blogged about in January, was filed with the Department of Education by the National Womens Law Center on behalf of student Stephanie Stewart. It alleged that the college violated Title IX when it refused to allow Stewart any accommodation to make up for classes or assignments missed due to her pregnancy, and then penalized her, by revoking her scholarship, when she withdrew from the class. While the failure to allow make-ups may or may not be discriminatory (depending on whether students are allowed makeup for other medical reasons), the revocation of her scholarship as a consequence of withdrawal appears to me to violate the Title IX regulation that requires schools to permit students to take leaves of absence for medically-necessary reasons related to pregnancy and childbirth with no change of status when they return. Under the terms of the settlement, Stewarts scholarship has been reinstated. She will also receive $3000 in damages.
Carolina Coastal University announced this week that it was discontinuing its mens track and cross-country program after next year.The Board of Trustees has determined budget cuts are necessary across the university and rumors had been stirring that the athletic department might have to cut a team. The press release stated the following about why the choice was made to cut the the mens track program: The Coastal Carolina Administration and the Board of Trustees authorized this step in order to reach the optimal combination of sport offerings that would provide quality opportunities to CCU student-athletes while remaining in compliance with Title IX and exercising fiscal responsibility.
Disturbed by a recent spate of sexual assault and homophobic and racist incidents on their campus, a group of Dartmouth students staged a protest during Prospective Students Weekend. A video of the protest can be found here at Jezebel along with a commentary about the effectiveness of such a disturbance. I am not going to comment on whether it was "rude" or effective in making incoming students aware of the climate on Dartmouths campus or if just deterred students who might be victims from coming at all. I will say that visibility and voice are crucial components to raising awareness of campus climate. With so many schools misreporting data about sexual assault, how can anyone--including the students--be expected to stay silent? Some called the protest at Dartmouth rude. But deliberate indifference and misreporting are ILLEGAL. I do not know what students had done prior to this protest to raise these issues with the administration. But if something illegal and dangerous is happening on their campus--whether it is one incident or a series of them--and these are not being openly addressed by administrators, then students have every right to protest--loudly even. There has to be transparency. When sexual assault and discrimination occur administrators should not be telling students (and I am not suggesting this is happening at Dartmouth rather that it happens frequently) that things will be handled. There needs to be a balance between privacy and transparency. Dealing with individual cases in accordance with privacy laws is fine. But the measures that will be taken to deal with a hostile campus climate need to be developed cooperatively and openly. And every student needs to be made aware of campus policies regarding sexual assault and incidents of discrimination. I was browsing the Amherst College website today and found a page titled Sexual Respect and Title IX. It was under the "About Amherst College" tab on the front page of the schools website. Students can easily find information about reporting sexual assault and seeking counseling. It also notes the steps Amherst has taken to deal with an arguably hostile climate for female students. It also shows prospective students and their parents that Amherst College does have sexual assaults on its campus. I think that is a pretty bold move. They are not hiding that fact. (Arguably after all the negative press last year, it would be hard to do so.) So many schools are hiding the extent of sexual assault that occurs on their campuses, though. In another effort to increase visibility of these issues, a group of students and recent alums are trying to fund the Know You IX Campaign which will be aimed at informing every college student about her rights under Title IX. More about what the group will do and how to donate can be found at the above link.
A settlement announced today will, pending court approval, end the litigation against Quinnipiac University thats been ongoing since 2006, when the university announced plans to terminate its womens volleyball team. Under the terms of the settlement, Quinnipiac will not to terminate womens volleyball for the three-year term of the agreement. It further agrees that if it terminates any other womens team during that time, it will replace that team with an NCAA-championship sport. This provision of the agreement reflects the influence of decisions of the federal district court (see here and here) which had refused to count towards Title IX proportionality two sports -- competitive cheer and rugby -- that had not yet attained NCAA championship status. Quinnipiac also agrees that it will not create additional mens teams without also simultaneously adding womens teams while the agreement is in effect. Additionally, Quinnipiac agreed to numerous provisions to enhance its outdoor track team, ensuring that despite overlapping participation by members of the cross-country team, the sport is truly a separate and distinct sport rather than merely a glorified off-season for distance runners. Quinnipiac will secure access to an off-campus facility for the purpose of training and hosting an outdoor track meet, it will devote scholarship dollars to track athletes who do not specialize in distance, and will seek to expand the number of events in which Quinnipiac track and field athletes compete. Quinnipiac will also add resources to womens rugby by improving their playing facilities, opportunities for NCAA-level competition and increasing scholarship dollars devoted to that sport. In general, the agreement ensures that Quinnipiacs womens sports teams will award at least 50% of the scholarships authorized by the NCAA, and that some womens teams -- field hockey and one other designated a "tier one" team -- will receive the full number of scholarships authorized by the NCAA. Womens volleyball will receive two additional scholarships over the next two years. And Quinnipiac will devote $5 million to facilities for its womens teams, as well as additional hundreds of thousands of dollars for other upgrades to their uniforms, equipment, supplies, and the compensation of womens coaches. Earlier today, the Womens Sports Foundation posted a summary of the settlement terms, along with a list of the all of the positive Title IX precedent to emerge from this litigation. Summing it up rather well, the Foundation also expressed gratitude for the volleyball plaintiffs and their coach, lawyers and experts for enduring many years of litigation to eventually "obtain broad relief for all Quinnipiac University athletes" and establishing "a powerful precedent for all future female athletes."
The Boston Globe reports today about a Title IX dispute brewing in North Reading, Massachusetts, over the construction of a new athletic complex for the high school and middle school. The complex had initially been designed to provide a new field for both baseball and softball, but was recently modified by the committee supervising the project to provide two fields to baseball, one primary field and a second, smaller practice field. Many in town are contesting this development, since the softball team currently plays at a field off campus, at a local elementary school, in conditions that are inferior to the existing baseball field already located at the high school. In particular, the softball field lacks a dugout, bathrooms, and locker rooms. That disparity could have been corrected with the construction of two new fields of comparable quality. For that reason, softball advocates are working to convince the school board to return to the initial proposal, and have threatened to file a complaint with the Department of Educations Office for Civil Rights if the plan for two baseball fields remains in place. I think the softball advocates are right to see this as a Title IX issue. As I told the reporter for this story, “It’s not equitable for the girls to have to pay for their own transportation off campus or to not have fields of comparable quality,” she said. “And it’s even more egregious that at a moment when the school is adding new facilities, it’s not seeking to correct that inequity but is perhaps going to exacerbate it.” Hopefully, the school district will decide on its own to return to the gender equitable plan. If not, I think the softball advocates will easily prevail by leveraging Title IX.
Madison Area Technical College in Wisconsin has agreed to add opportunities and resources for womens sports, as part of a voluntary resolution agreement with the Department of Educations Office for Civil Rights to ensure compliance with Title IX. We noted last December that the school was under investigation by OCR after receiving a complaint about inequities in MATC athletics. The college, with a 53 male student body, presently offers 62 athletic opportunities (and a near identical percentage) for men in a total of four sports, with the support of 16 coaches. Female students, who make up 47% of the student body, have 37 opportunities in three sports, with 3 coaches. No female students receive athletic scholarships, while members of the mens baseball team do. To remedy these imbalances, the college has committed to adding womens soccer, a step it had already announced while the OCR investigation was underway. The college is planning to hire a coach later this year and field a team in 2014. In addition, it will elevate its softball team to Division II of the National Junior College Athletic Association, so that it may provide scholarships to its members. OCR will monitor MATCs compliance with this agreement for the next three years.
Earlier this year, the journal Educational Studies published research finding that the more boys and girls were segregated for their junior high classes, the more they engaged in gender stereotyping the following semester, as measured by students responses to a questionnaire with the questions "who [boys or girls] is better at math?" and "who is better at language arts?" Here is the articles abstract:
Concern has been raised that segregation of girls and boys into separate classes leads to increased gender stereotyping. We tested this in a sample of 365 seventh-grade students attending a junior high school that offers both gender-segregated (GS) and co-educational classes. It was found that for both boys and girls, the more GS classes they took in the fall, the more gender stereotyped they were in their responding in the spring (controlling for initial levels of gender stereotyping). We concluded that GS likely heightens the salience of gender in the classroom thereby reinforcing and increasing gender stereotypes. As such, we argue that GS is a misguided approach to addressing any educational difficulties girls and boys might be having.Citation: Richard A. Fabes et al., _Gender-Segregated Schooling and Gender Stereotypes_, Educational Studies (2013).
On the heels of yesterdays report that 12 students at Swarthmore collaborated on a complaint challenging the inefficiencies of the universitys response to sexual assaults on campus, today brings news of an even larger effort to expose similar problems at Occidental College in Los Angeles. The Department of Education received a complaint against Occidental containing accounts by 37 students and alumni of the colleges mishandling reports of sexual assault, including by seeking to deter victims from reporting, dragging out the disciplinary process, and allowing guilty offenders to remain in school. Several of the students involved in the complaint made public statements yesterday, coming forward about their own experiences in an effort to raise awareness about what is starting to look like a national epidemic of suppression of campus sexual assault. In related news, a former high school student in Michigan, represented by the National Womens Law Center, filed a lawsuit in federal court yesterday, alleging that the Forest Hills School district in Michigan violated Title IX by responding indifferently to her allegation of sexual assault against a male student athlete in 2010. The lawsuit alleges that school officials sought to deter the victims parents from reporting the assault to the police (which they did anyway), failed to investigate her claim, delayed changing the alleged attackers schedule to remove him from the victims schedules, and failed to protect her from harassment by other students who supported the alleged attacker. During this time, a second female student complained of an assault by the same male student. Yet, according to the complaint, the school district failed to investigate that report as well. Police eventually charged the student with two counts of criminal sexual assault, and the student pled guilty to reduced charges. Yet the school districts only response was to temporarily suspend him from the basketball team. The lawsuit seeks damages to compensate the plaintiff for emotional distress, as well as injunctive relief that would require the school district to improve its prevention and response to sexual assault.
Twelve undergraduate students at Swarthmore College filed a complaint with the Department of Education, alleging that the college inadequately addressed known reports of sexual assault, including by failing to report them as required by law. The Daily Swarthmore lists the specific allegations as follows:
1. Discouraging students from reporting crime to local law enforcement and from going through formal judiciary proceedings 2. Persistently underreporting incidents of sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape in the Annual Clery Security Report 3. Persistently underreporting incidents of sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape in the daily crime log 4. Failing to issue timely reports of incidents of sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape 5. Failing to publicly report potential sanctions for sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape 6. Intimidating, discriminating, and retaliating against sexual assault and rape survivors and their advocatesSeveral of these allegations -- 1, 5, and 6, at least -- are violations of Title IX, while the others -- 2, 3, and 4 -- are violations of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. The Department of Education has jurisdiction over both statutes. If this complaint reminds you of the allegations against UNC, theres a reason for that. The Swarthmore complainants reportedly consulted with Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, the students who filed the complaint that is pending against their university on similar charges. (The complaint is still pending, though UNC is reported this week to have begun to address some the charges by hiring a Title IX Coordinator.) In fact, as also reported in the New York Times, undergraduates at UNC, Amherst, Yale, and other colleges have been collaborating about strategies to expose and address campus sexual assault. By taking concerted action against and within their respective universities, these students are exposing a national epidemic that has been ignored for too long.
In the wake of the Maryland governors decision to appropriate $300,000 to save the Towson University baseball team from elimination, its reported that the states legislature will provide $2.3 million in state funds for the purpose of constructing a new facility for the universitys softball team. This capital improvement addresses the university presidents concern that keeping baseball would put the university at risk of liability under Title IX, though she notes that the university still need to address the disparity in the number of athletic opportunities available to Towsons female students.
...Framingham, Massachusetts, where students have been complaining and protesting that high school officials took it easy on a male student-athlete accused of sexual assault, even after his second offense. The students note that the schools drug and alcohol policy carries stronger sanctions than the five-day suspension he eventually received. The accused student was allowed to continue to play football despite both reports of assault, and still sees both victims at school every day. The Department of Educations Office for Civil Rights received a complaint that the school districts response violates Title IX, and has begun an investigation into whether the school district had in place, and followed, appropriate procedures for handling allegations of assault, and whether it had designated the required Title IX Coordinator position to someone on staff. ...Longview, Texas, where a former high school girls soccer coach has filed a complaint with OCR containing allegations of inferior treatment for his and other girls team, compared to boys teams who have access to better facilities and equipment and more coaches. The complainant, a high school teacher named Eric Yoder, earlier complained to the school districts Title IX coordinator and then the school board, and filed a complaint with OCR after both earlier complaints were rebuffed. The high schools athletics director, for one, has accused Yoder of being interested only in his salary, though its clear that the scope of Yoders complaint is much broader. OCR officials arrived in Longview last week, and reportedly talked to over 250 student-athletes as part of its investigation.
Batavia City School District in western New York is under fire for the alleged unequal treatment of its girls softball team. A public interest law firm called Empire Justice Center filed a class action lawsuit against the district, maintaining that its inferior treatment of the girls softball team is a violation of Title IX. The boys baseball team at Batavia plays at Dwyer Stadium, a facility that is owned by the city for the primary purpose of hosting the citys minor league team, the Batavia Muckdogs, which has grandstand seats, lighting, a ticket booth, an outfield fence, an electronic scoreboard, press box, covered dugouts, concession stand and bullpens. The city makes the stadium available for local high school games for a generous $175/game. While acknowledging that the girls softball field lacks all of the amenities of Dwyer Stadium, the school district argues that the city provides those benefits, rather than the school. They also point out that the softball facilities are comparable to those of the teams competitors. Yet, as I told a local news station in Batavia, neither of these arguments constitute a legal defense to a Title IX violation. Title IX requires a school to provide equal treatment to boys and girls athletic programs, whether that treatment is high quality or low, the law is only concerned that is equal. And the Department of Education has also made clear that if the district accepts from sources outside the school a benefit for the team of one sex, it still has to provide comparable treatment to a team of the other sex. The lawsuit should put pressure on the school district to concrete plans for upgrading the softball field. Batavia residents reportedly voted down an effort in March 2011 to commit public funds to improvements to the field
After the of 2013-14 season, Boston University will no longer support a varsity wrestling team. Wrestling has been a varsity sport at the university for just under 50 years. Officials within the athletics department said that the decision was made for several reasons including BUs imminent conference move to the Patriot League which does not have wrestling and the teams mediocre performance in the past decade+. To remedy the latter, a lot more money would have to be put into the program including into facilities, something the department says is not feasible. They immediately ruled out the possibility of fundraising as a possibility to save the team. It seems the decision has been made. The good news is that the articles I have read have not invoked Title IX as a "the law made me do it" excuse. And BU eliminated football in the late 1990s so we know they arent shuffling the money over to that program. But that hasnt stopped critics from participating in the Title IX blame game. A quick look at Twitter: Some named Justin S tweeted "Wrestling programs get cut so girls can take lots of cute uniform pics in the lockerroom before games" with the TitleIX hashtag. This was right after he tweeted that "football and wrestling have literally destroyed my body." Hmm... Jason Bryant, a sportswriter in Minnesota, tweeted that that was another case of Title IX forcing a school to cut a sport and that it was the addition of mens lacrosse that forced the school to cut wrestling--because it couldnt keep both. Well it certainly has a numbers problem. Men comprise, as of the 2012 EADA reporting, just a smidge under 40 percent of the undergraduate population. The same data show that there is a 7.7 percent disparity between the percentage of female undergraduates and the percentage of female student-athletes. That is equivalent to 52 opportunities. So they have to keep the number of male student-athletes in check or add a womans sport--or increase the number of men in their undergraduate population. Adding mens lacrosse made the school vulnerable. If a womans club team, for example, came forward and asked for elevation to varsity status the school might have trouble denying them that opportunity given that their numbers are off and that the last womens team they added was in 2005. If BU had all the money in the world, maybe wrestling would have been retained and two more womens sports added. But maybe they are simply trying to maintain a highly successful athletics program in which all their sports are regionally popular and given what they need to succeed.
In the current issue of Sports Lawyers Journal, student author Colton Puckett criticizes the federal courts standing analysis in _American Sports Council v. Department of Education_, the case in which ASC sought to have courts declare the three-part test inapplicable to high school athletics. The federal court dismissed the case on the grounds that ASC did not suffer a concrete injury that would be redressed by a ruling against the Department of Education, i.e., that ASC did not satisfy the jurisdictional prerequisite known as standing. (We blogged about that decision when it was announced last March.) The author concludes:
To be clear, this Note is not commenting on the merits of the ASCs complaint. Whether one believes that Title IX is the savior of public athletic programs, the embodiment of all that is wrong with government regulation, or anything in between is irrelevant to the question at hand. The question is whether the ASC has a right to have its case heard in court. Whether one agrees with the ASC or not, it seems clear that its shotgun-style approach to standing should have garnered at least one hit. If this was indeed a case where the standing inquiry acted as a means to dismiss on the merits, the court should have let the ASC be heard, and let the merits of the case stand, or fall, on their own.Colton Puckett, American Sports Council v. Department of Education: _Forty Years of Title IX and Still Standing (Or Not)_, 20 Sports Lawyers J. 261 (2013).
Maryland Governor Martin OMalley has allocated $300,000 to Towson University for the next two years, in order to reinstate the baseball team cut that had been eliminated last month by the university president and athletic director. Towson claimed that cutting baseball, along with mens soccer, was necessary to rein in athletic department finances and achieve Title IX compliance, although the universities Board of Visitors had earlier questioned the accuracy of the Title IX rationale. Towson will reportedly use the additional state money to support baseball as well as explore adding an additional womens team. Based on public reports about equity in athletic opportunity, Towson provides 52% of athletic opportunities to women, though women constitute 61% of the undergraduate student body. It is unclear to me whether the Governors gift has truly saved the team or simply provided a two-year reprieve for its varsity status. The university president noted that even with the additional money, the university will have to raise student fees by $8 and fundraise an additional $100,000 per year in order to keep baseball. What happens after that? This report states that the team must become "self-sufficient" by 2015, but if self-sufficient means that the team pays for itself with little university support, I think theres another label for that -- a club team.