In a recent commentary in the Harvard Law Review, professor Janet Halley exposed a case from an unnamed liberal arts university in Oregon in which a student was “ordered to stay away from a fellow student (cutting him off from his housing, his campus job, and educational opportunity) —- all because he reminded her of the man who had raped her months before and thousands of miles away.”
The student, also unnamed, was found to be innocent of any misconduct. Even so, the order remained in place, putting him at constant risk of violating it and facing disciplinary action.
Halley argues that this case is only one of many stemming from the campaign to reduce sexual violence on college campuses across the country by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR is responsible for implementation of Title IX, which deals exclusively with sexual discrimination.
According to Halley, OCR argues that all alleged victims of rape “are trauma victims subject to continuing trauma if the persons they accuse continue in school: merely ‘seeing’ the harasser is deemed traumatic.”
The Oregon story is only part of a larger story that Halley lays out. In her piece, she charges that Harvard’s Title IX training program is “100% aimed to convince [Harvard faculty] to believe complainants, precisely when they seem unreliable and incoherent.”
Halley’s argument centers on the fact that Title IX enforcement is dedicated exclusively to sex discrimination and does not exercise “fairness to all of our community.” In particular, she notes that racial bias is not considered in adjudication of rape cases.
With regard to Title IX at Harvard, she says that there exists an undeniable bias in the way that alleged rape cases are handled that favors women.
“It entails a commitment to the idea that women should not and do not bear any responsibility for the bad things that happen to them when they are voluntarily drunk, stoned, or both,” she writes.
Halley goes on to write that such commitment prohibits women “from assuming agency about their own lives.”
“Since when was that a feminist idea?” she asks.
The commentary investigates several cases adjudicated by Harvard’s Title IX Office, an institution dedicated solely to investigating cases with potential to cause Title IX violations.
Halley finds the Title IX Office to be meddling in the privacy of students and believes it should be reduced to a “compliance-monitoring role” rather than be in the “business of adjudicating cases.” Halley alleges a conflict of interest with the Office arbitrating cases as their interest is inherently biased to discredit the accused.