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Title IX ethics

Even if judges find in favor of due process on campus, courts do not control federal funds to schools. Schools continue their craven submission to Obama's Title IX standards because they do not want to forfeit the money they receive from all the federal agencies that fund academic research, scholarship programs, student loans and other financial aid, as well as funds they receive from the Department of Defense, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of health, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, CIA, NSA, Department of Transportation, Department of State, Department of Commerce, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Department of Education.

The letter from Obama's civil rights people contained a do-it-or-die threat: comply with these rules and procedures, or we will try to shut you down. School administrators are highly aware of what proportion of their revenue comes, directly or indirectly, through the federal treasury. Before Title IX, government used positive inducements to get universities to behave in certain ways - ways favorable to government interests. The inducements became institutionalized over the years. Title IX was the first time government threatened to withdraw _all_ of it, for lack of compliance. It may not have been a realistic threat, it may even have been an empty threat, but craven educational administrators do not want to test that proposition.

Campus culture suggests that if I resist the feds' guidance, and lose, what's going to happen to my goddamn job? It'll go to someone who plays the game, that's what. If I don't railroad this guy who got drunk and had sex, what will my colleagues and superiors think of me then? They'll tell me to get with the program. As soon as someone tells you that, as soon as someone even thinks it, start to look for another job. By far the strongest motivator is to act so as to minimize job insecurity. If you observe a bunch of administrators suddenly so concerned about Title IX, they scurry about to set up kangaroo procedures that comply with the new standard, what do you think your reaction will be? Justice looks like whatever course of action protects you.

To make proceedings that follow an accusation of assault fair, reward administrators for their fairness. No one in the Obama administration told administrators to be unfair. All they did was say, "Give the accuser benefit of the doubt, or you may wish you had paid closer attention to this threat, I mean guidance, when we make our funding decisions." The more money involved, the less explicit your threat has to be. The feds received the response they wanted. The civil rights department did not even have to make an example of anyone, as university administrators are not known for their moral courage. If we Title IX specialists have to ruin a few lives to protect our school's revenue stream and minimize controversy, we'll do it. Why would we do otherwise?

Courts stand outside this structure of incentives. They can clarify legal issues, but they have no control over the monies universities depend on. The Obama administration demonstrated it could shut down for-profit educational institutions, mainly because they just did not like for-profit educational institutions. If that's the case, why would you not roll over to comply with expectations about how to handle charges of sexual assault? Even before Title IX, the atmosphere on campus did not favor fair treatment for men accused of rape on campus. Threaten to withhold funds for some vague, Kafkaesque lack of compliance on matters of sexual assault, and what do you think you'll see? It won't be a new dawn of justice.

Related article

In Due Process Lawsuit, Appeals Court Sides with Michigan Student Expelled for Sexual Misconduct: If credibility is at stake, "the university must give the accused student or his agent an opportunity to cross-examine the accuser."

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