Families Advocating for Campus Equality’s press release criticizing Obama’s last-minute efforts to reinforce Title IX overreach
January 9, 2017 – In recent weeks President Obama has made two key civil rights appointments in an apparent attempt to strengthen his administration’s ideological stranglehold over the issue of campus sexual harassment.
On December 15th, Obama appointed Catherine Lhamon, current head of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), to the nonpartisan U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a position guaranteed through 2020. As head of OCR, Lhamon co-authored and aggressively enforced the infamous April 2011 Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), which coerced college and university campuses across the nation to adjudicate complaints of sexual misconduct on a “more likely than not basis,” while simultaneously constraining schools’ ability to provide procedural protections intended to ensure accused students are presumed innocent and disciplinary findings are reliable.
U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-OK) has repeatedly echoed the objections of members of congress, scholars, legal experts and various organizations by condemning the illegally-issued 2011 DCL for its failure to provide “essential protections” to accused students which, ‘“coupled with the requirement of a lower standard of proof, indisputably tips the playing field against the accused, making the disciplinary process anything but “equitable.”’
That Lhamon is personally biased against students accused of sexual harassment is indicated by evidence she “played a key role in the infamous Rolling Stone rape hoax,” which conveniently dovetailed with Lhamon’s preferred narrative that our nation’s campuses are hotbeds of depravity. Last week, OCR’s public list of open investigations of purportedly recalcitrant colleges and universities had reached 300, while students who appear to have been wrongfully accused continue to file lawsuits at the rate of at least one each week, and their success rate is improving. Hundreds of traumatized students and their families have sought support and guidance from FACE.
In an effort to guarantee continued enforcement of misguided and illegal OCR Title IX policies, on January 4, 2017, Obama appointed Harvard’s controversial Title IX officer Mia Karvonides as OCR’s head Title IX enforcement officer. Not only have Ms. Karvonides’ radical sexual harassment policies raised the ire of two dozen Harvard law professors who argued the policies “lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process,” and “are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused,” but Harvard students also criticized Karvonides’ explanation of “unwelcome conduct” as unintelligible. This is hardly surprising, as the Obama administration’s definition of “unwelcome conduct” is similarly vague and expansive (“name-calling, graphic or written statements”), and inexplicably instructs campuses to disregard whether or not a subjectively offensive act was intended to harm.
Not to be outdone, on January 5, 2017, Vice President Biden issued his own letter to the nation’s colleges and universities exhorting them to continue implementing the disastrous effects of OCR’s aggressive Title IX enforcement policies. Biden’s letter relies on the repeatedly discredited one-in-five-college-women-are-assaulted statistic, even as his linked January 2017 “Guide” cites a U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study which showed non-students of the same age group are 1.2 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than are college students.
As a representative of hundreds of students adversely impacted by the Obama administration’s ill-conceived campus sexual harassment policies, FACE urges congress to take immediate and decisive action to counteract any and all efforts to prolong enforcement of those policies, and to restore civil rights on campus.
FACE advocates for equal treatment and due process for those affected by sexual misconduct allegations on campus and to support those students and their families through outreach and education. www.facecampusequality.org