Report finds tensions between implementing Title IX and academic freedom
Within the study, the report found certain “tensions between current interpretations of Title IX and the academic freedom essential for campus life to thrive,” external relations specialist at AAUP Laura Markwardt said in a press release.
Specifically, AAUP sees the unalienable rights of the constitution as being ignored by broadened definitions of hostile environments on college campuses. The study said this is a direct result of the historical application of Title IX.
While the ruling and implementation of Title IX might have been publicly regarded as a victory, the study said, its empirical results have dawned some unforeseen consequences.
“We found significant problems with the interpretation and enforcement of Title IX,” AAUP general counsel Risa Lieberwitz said in a press release.
Essentially, the implementation of the Title IX regulations on college campuses have some detrimental consequences in regards to the due process of faculty reviews in addition to academic freedom, she said.
“Universities, under pressure from the OCR, have adopted lowered standards of proof that conflict with due process protections of those accused of misconduct,” Lieberwitz said.
This is wholly relevant to MSU students and faculty as Vice President for Student Affairs and Services Denise Maybank has drawn criticism from individuals across campus regarding her elevated executive power in dealing with sexual assault cases.
The organization also said these interpretations of Title IX unwittingly worsen the problem of social inequality.
During the process of enforcing Title IX, institutions “perpetuate race-based biases in the criminal justice system, which disproportionately affect men who are racial minorities,” the study stated.
In response, MSU communications manager Jason Cody said he is confident in the current RVSM system for sexual assault policy.
"We firmly believe in our system," he said.
AAUP offered a set of recommendations on how college campuses such as MSU can better reflect freedom of speech and academic environments while also promoting social equality.
For University Administrators:
- Universities must strengthen policies to protect academic freedom against incursions from overly broad harassment policies and other regulatory university protocols.
- University policies against sexual harassment should distinguish speech that fits the definition of hostile environment from speech that individuals may find hurtful or offensive but is protected by academic freedom.
- Through shared governance processes, faculty must be included in all stages of development, implementation and enforcement of sex harassment policy.
- Universities must clarify their relationship to the criminal justice system and work in coordination with it.
- Universities should consider adopting restorative justice practices for some forms of misconduct.
- To further secure the rights of the complainants and the accused, campus initiatives to secure sex equality must be conscious of potential bias on the basis of race, gender identity, class, and sexual orientation in sex discrimination claims and enforcement processes.
- To meaningfully address inequality, universities should encourage and improve the conditions of interdisciplinary learning on campus by funding gender, feminist, and sexuality studies, as well as allied disciplines.