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The Federal Government's Sexual Reign of Terror on College Campuses

How Title IX Birthed a Monster

Title IX of the Higher Education Act, the law behind this bureaucracy, was signed by President Richard Nixon in the Education Amendments of 1972. In the days when women were denied from some colleges and universities, this was a welcome step forward. Enforcement of the law often centered on athletic programs, even into the 1990s.

Eventually, however, regulators became convinced that a school had the responsibility to correct a "hostile environment." This allowed Title IX to stretch from determining the conduct not just of the school and its agents, but even of students themselves.

"Between 1972 and 2011, a statutory ban on discrimination was transformed into a bureaucratic structure consisting of policies, procedures, and organization forms that regulate conduct," explain Gersen and Suk. In 2011, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the Title IX enforcement arm of the Department of Education, started including "sexual violence" as a form of sexual discrimination. While this change came as a non-binding suggestion in a "dear colleague letter," the threat of lost federal funds coerced universities to comply.

Before that time, many schools handed cases of sexual violence over to the police or dealt with them internally as cases of violence, not discrimination. After OCR's declaration, it became impossible to do so.

Since Title IX now applied to conduct between students, OCR began presenting its own definitions of sexual harassment, sexual violence and affirmative consent, and it started strong-arming schools into adopting these definitions as their own. These definitions often proved vague and confusing, covering everything from minor "unwelcome comments about appearance" to violent assault.

While "the public debate about Title IX and sexual assault on college campuses gives the impression that the target of this bureaucracy is ... rape and sexual assault," Gersen and Suk explain, the concept of sexual violence has expanded to include "unrequested conduct of a sexual nature that is regarded by someone as undesirable."