Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Kipnis and Title IX

Recently, we have a Title IX training seminar in our department. A colleague brought to our attention the fascinating case of Laura Kipnis at Northwestern University. This video summarizes the contours of the case:

Here's the rough outline. She wrote a piece in the Chronicle entitled "Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe" (pdf), which prompted student outrage. She became the subject of a Title IX investigation, which she chronicled in another article (pdf), describing the opaque process.

Eventually, the charges against her were dropped, but the amount of time, money, and effort wasted on a stupid bureaucratic process raised important questions.
University President Morton Schapiro said many people have questioned the University’s decision to investigate the complaints at all. 
“The idea that a student shouldn’t be able to bring a Title IX complaint against a faculty member because of the faculty member’s protection under the First Amendment — that’s not my decision. That’s not Northwestern’s decision,” Schapiro told The Daily. “That’s federal law.”
The unfortunate outcome of such frivolous charges are that it helps de-legitimize/de-sensitize people from really outrageous violations. It is sad that the scope of the original legislation has been elastically expanded to become a political weapon.

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