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OCR Investigating ‘Financial Discrimination’ Against Men at Tulane

The United States Department of Education has launched a Title IX investigation into Tulane University amid allegations the school engages in "financial discrimination" against male students and prospective applicants.

According to an August 20 letter obtained by PJ Media, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has agreed to investigate whether six female-only scholarships violate Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibits universities from discrimination due to sex.

Scholarships under investigation include the Landor Lewis and Shirley Gauff Awards, the Grace Hopper Celebration Award, and the school’s Summer Internship Funding Grant, which offers up to $2,000 annually for female students to take on unpaid internships.

The full scope of "financial discrimination" by Tulane is unknown. The six scholarships listed in the Title IX complaint may only comprise a small fraction of all female-only scholarships at the school, as private universities typically do not list all scholarships on their website.

According to the complaint, male students at Tulane are left in the dust. Even though men are only 42 percent of the student body and are also less likely to graduate, Tulane continues to boast of programs and scholarships exclusively for women.

This is surprising, because if anyone needs a "boost" in higher education now, it’s men.

While there’s no research (yet) suggesting that these disparities negatively impact men, some critics and scholars worry that the disparities act as a "signal" telling men that they aren’t exactly wanted on campus.

"These disparities send a subtle, or maybe even not so subtle, message to male students that they are less valued than women today in higher education," University of Michigan-Flint professor Mark Perry told PJ Media on Thursday.

"Not only are men the minority gender today in higher education for both enrollment and degrees, but they are often treated like they have out-of-favor, marginalized minority status," Perry added.

This ultimately sends the message that "men have become the ‘second sex’ on college campuses today."

Margaret C. Valois is a Title IX attorney based in Virginia. She counsels men and women accused of Title IX violations, many of whom were investigated under Obama-era Title IX regulations forbidding due process and cross-examination.

"I work hard to make sure the investigations and hearings in students’ cases are carried out in accordance with the law and with school policy, and to achieve the best possible result so that they can complete their education," she told PJ Media on Thursday.

Valois was one of a few people who urged the OCR to investigate Tulane. When asked why she helped file the complaint, she responded: "Unfairness. Title IX guaranteed equal rights to education, regardless of sex. Period."

She contends that Tulane is one of many schools in violation of Title IX.

"Tulane's implementation of Title IX provides greater educational opportunities for female students than for male students. When opportunities and benefits are offered to one group because of their sex… it is patently unfair and clearly also a violation of the very spirit of Title IX and other civil rights laws."

Reached by PJ Media, Tulane University declined to comment.

According the letter, the OCR is also investigating other programs at Tulane, such as female-only mentoring and internship programs. Regarding all programs the OCR has agreed to investigate, no parallel programs exist to help men.

Valois — who has two sons — says she filed the complaint to fight educational inequality.

"Fairness benefits everyone; men and women," she said. "Efforts to right the wrongs of sex discrimination in education have exacerbated the problem, resulting in discrimination against men. The more attention that is brought to these issues, the more likely the pendulum is to swing back towards fairness, where everyone is treated equally."

Going forward, the OCR Dallas office will process the Title IX investigation. Due to a backlog of nearly 1,800 Title IX investigations, it could take years for the OCR to reach a verdict. In the meanwhile, it is unlikely Tulane will change any of their programming.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen.