Patterico's Pontifications

3/19/2020

Weaponizing Title IX

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:26 am



As we stand on the hill waiting for the 1000-foot coronavirus wave to break, wondering whether we are on high enough ground to avoid being swept away, how about a miserable story having nothing to do with coronavirus?

It’s a long piece and I can’t do it justice in a short post. The basic idea is this: a university professor seeks a job in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan, but only if her wife can get some sort of a job there too. The professor lets that fact slip to another applicant for the job, who is jealous and resentful that he was not offered the job first. He instantly sets about engaging in a pattern of stalking and harassment by making anonymous Title IX complaints — made up wholly out of thin air — against the wife. The idea: to prevent the professor’s wife from getting a job, which will lead to the professor declining the job, opening the way for the harasser to get the job.

It is a long road.

Eventually, I wrote to the president of A.S.U. He had told us during our faculty orientation that we should always feel free to reach out directly to him, so I decided to take him at his word. I told him that someone had been using the university’s Title IX process to harass us, that this person had impersonated students and faculty members and had posted false statements about Marta on Reddit. I explained that there was no evidence that either Marta or I had done anything wrong, yet the Title IX office had told us that it could not close its investigation if emails kept coming in from this anonymous individual. “We are strong believers in the importance of Title IX protections,” I concluded, “but we also feel like there has to be a system in place to protect faculty and students from outsiders who might use that system to defame and harass.”

That afternoon, I received a response from the vice provost, who assured me that investigators were being urged to move expeditiously. “I know it can be frustrating to wait for findings,” she added, “but we are obligated to look into allegations that are brought to us.”

It ended up working. Marta did not get the job.

The story evoked flashbacks of what it is like to be the target of an obsessed Internet stalker. The techniques used are the same: the stalker uses phony accusations, pretends to be the victim himself, and does his level best to upend a stranger’s life for petty and vindictive personal reasons. It’s an agonizing and Orwellian story. Read it all!

Hey, at least it’s not about the coronavirus.

33 Responses to “Weaponizing Title IX”

  1. Not a lot to say but how awful.

    Making false complaints should be criminal and dealt with harshly, much more so than is the case. It’s like those evil people who falsely accuse someone of the heinous crime of rape or even child molestation, such as during a custody battle. We need to stop treating such people with kid gloves.

    Make America Ordered Again (23f793)

  2. I do think false accusations need to be dealt with criminally. There’s no serious penalty for attempting to ruin the life of an innocent.

    NJRob (4d595c)

  3. Academics! What’re you gonna do?

    nk (1d9030)

  4. Off-topic: Net neutrality comes home to roost:

    https://www.engadget.com/2020/03/19/eu-netflix-sd-streaming-to-conserve-internet/

    “EU asks Netflix and other services to stream in SD to ease internet burden”

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  5. Comcast doubled my speed (and everybody else’s) this morning to help out the shut-ins.

    nk (1d9030)

  6. In Texas at least, there are harsh penalties in our family law code to punish anyone from making false claims.

    Ragspierre (d9bec9)

  7. Score one for Texas.

    I hope you and yours are good today, Ragspierre.

    I don’t know if a Title IX complaint is sworn to (I would assume so) and what the penalties are for false allegations, but you should have to swear to the veracity of a complaint before harming someone with it. Obviously a sincere good faith belief would be a defense to an ultimately false allegation.

    Make America Ordered Again (23f793)

  8. As I gathered from the story, the poison pen letters were anonymous and/or pseudonymous, but Title IX still obligated the university, the lady’s employer, to take them seriously.

    nk (1d9030)

  9. At the risk of “blaming the victim”, I’ll also add (and you can find out why I’m saying this by clicking the link and reading the whole story) that in addition to Title IX they were also the victims of their own tolerance and open-mindedness.

    nk (1d9030)

  10. As I gathered from the story, the poison pen letters were anonymous and/or pseudonymous, but Title IX still obligated the university, the lady’s employer, to take them seriously.

    Yes, you’re no doubt right.

    Well they shouldn’t, not in that case—the law is an ass.

    Make America Ordered Again (23f793)

  11. At the risk of “blaming the victim”, I’ll also add (and you can find out why I’m saying this by clicking the link and reading the whole story) that in addition to Title IX they were also the victims of their own tolerance and open-mindedness.

    The old, “Here, let me reason with the lion,” school of cluelessness.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  12. If they have actual evidence against the perpetrator, there must be a hefty lawsuit in there, no?

    Dave (1bb933)

  13. If they have actual evidence against the perpetrator, there must be a hefty lawsuit in there, no?

    The essay says that they considered it, but their lawyer cautioned that going forward would incur tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, so they ended up settling the case. The author does not inform her readers the terms of the settlement.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  14. Me at my most uncharitable can’t help but wonder what these two women were publicly saying — or even thinking — during the whole Brett Kavanaugh situation.

    I do have a good deal of sympathy for what these two women have been though, but at the same time I note that they apparently remain firmly ensconced in the airtight bubble of the progressive faculty lounge and its many biases. For instance, the author refers uncritically to “the campus rape crisis,” and then once it becomes clear who her antagonist truly is she can’t help but take at face value his complaints that as a gay man in a conservative town he is subject to discrimination and abuse, unwilling to admit that he might be lying about that every bit as much as he is lying about the author and her wife.

    She obviously doesn’t come out and say this, but I detect a subtle undertone of “Title IX should be about punishing frat boys and straight white male professors in the business and engineering schools who might secretly vote Republican, not a hip lesbian couple in the humanities.” Her essay would have been a great deal stronger if she had more forcefully made the case that all of the accused deserve more protections, irrespective of whether or not they are members in good standing of a protected campus group.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  15. wish I could get past the pay wall

    Time123 (306531)

  16. wish I could get past the pay wall

    I always employ a second browser, in my case Chrome, which I use only for reading articles at places like the NYT, WaPo, and others which restrict how many monthly views you get. Once I am done reading and before I close out the browser, I go in and delete my browsing history so that I appear to be a new viewer next time.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  17. I actually broke down and paid the $1/week digital sub fee a day or two ago.

    Hopefully, when the introductory rate expires a year from now, the news will be much less interesting…

    Dave (1bb933)

  18. I actually broke down and paid the $1/week digital sub fee a day or two ago.

    I hope it wasn’t to follow the coronavirus news, because I heard that most of the major newspapers have decided to make those articles available to the public gratis. But I can appreciate the fact that you are willing to slip a few bucks to the providers.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  19. Patterico, this is something I have some experience with…and there is little that can be done. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (thefire.org) does good work in this area.

    But it is an awful mess.

    Simon Jester (6eeac7)

  20. Ok, my face is red. I didn’t pay attention to the writer’s name and didn’t realize this was a lesbian couple. I did think the “husband” in the picture was very youthful-looking for a 40-year old but I focused more on “his hippie haircut and outfit”.

    nk (1d9030)

  21. I hope it wasn’t to follow the coronavirus news, because I heard that most of the major newspapers have decided to make those articles available to the public gratis.

    Yes, I saw that.

    But the opinion pieces excoriating Trump are still pay-walled… 🙁

    (kidding!)

    Dave (1bb933)

  22. Interesting Read. I don’t pay for either the WaPo or the NYT. There’s no need to, since all the other media parrot them.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  23. It’s called due proccess

    Not a novel concept. Exactly why do Phd’s shy away from something as simple as due process? Right to cross examine your accuser? Public hearings? Transparency? Innocent until proven guilty…through due process.

    Again, the Highly educated. Forming policies that intentionally put the rights(?) of the accused out of reach of the process?

    rights(?). Does that enter into the picture at all?

    Wouldn’t it be great if history would have provide these highly educated persons a model of how to resolve disagreements?

    Conclusion: The process has nothing to do with resolving disagreements. The process is about who has the power. It is clear the accused was always going to be guilty. It’s not the facts of the case, but the seriousness of the accusation.

    Iowan2 (bbb95d)

  24. I feel sorry for the 30% of academics who did not vote for Obama. This is not Title IX, the statute, in action, it is the new regulations Obama enacted under it.

    nk (1d9030)

  25. This is not Title IX, the statute, in action, it is the new regulations Obama enacted under it.

    Yet Betsy DeVos is to be burned at the stake for daring to suggest that they be modified to afford the accused a scintilla of due process. Again, I would love to know what Prof. Viren and her wife thought of all of this before the wheel came around for them.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  26. I feel sorry for the 30% of academics who did not vote for Obama. This is not Title IX, the statute, in action, it is the new regulations Obama enacted under it.

    That’s not really true here, nk.

    What Obama changed was explicitly making the burden of proof “preponderance of the evidence”. No such threshold was reached by any of the accusations.

    Regardless of that, it has always been the case that the universities are required to investigate allegations or face loss of federal funding AND enormous civil liability. I’m pretty surprised that the law doesn’t include penalties for making maliciously false claims.

    I am also surprised that, with such a compelling story, they couldn’t raise money for legal fees through crowd-funding, or find a lawyer woke enough to take the case pro-bono.

    Dave (1bb933)

  27. As I gathered from the story, the poison pen letters were anonymous and/or pseudonymous

    The excerpt here states:

    this person had impersonated students and faculty members

    That sounds like they impersonated actual people.

    That borders on the criminal. Not an expert on Michigan law, but are there any statutes that address that?

    Bored Lawyer (56c962)

  28. None of the names they used to lodge the complaints were real people.

    They claimed to be former students writing pseudonymously.

    Dave (1bb933)

  29. I guess they did use the name of another professor in a couple mails/emails.

    Dave (1bb933)

  30. That sounds like they impersonated actual people.

    That borders on the criminal. Not an expert on Michigan law, but are there any statutes that address that?

    It has been prosecuted under the identity theft laws in some places, but I can’t say that one of them was Michigan.

    nk (1d9030)

  31. Wouldn’t the law that all the celebrity/rich parents were prosecuted under in the big college admissions scandal – *googles it* – “honest services fraud” be relevant?

    “For the purposes of this chapter, the term scheme or artifice to defraud includes a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.”

    Seems like it describes what happened here, but of course I’m no fancy-pants lawyer.

    Given that there seemed to be a clear intention by the scumbag to deprive the victims of gainful employment and wrongfully appropriate that same benefit to himself, introducing a financial element, maybe wire fraud too?

    Dave (1bb933)

  32. It is sad, and unfortunate, that this professor and her partner were the victims of such a stunt.

    Then again, perhaps package deal hirings shouldn’t be a thing.

    Which doesn’t excuse, or mitigate, the behavior.

    Demosthenes (7fae81)

  33. It’s hard to understand all the ire directed at the those lodging the phony title IX actions.

    Not the existence of the title IX bureaucracy. This is precisely why govt expansion is almost always bad.

    Bad actors exist through out society. The govt violating basic human rights of due proccess is the crime here. Not the lawfare the govt is encouraging.

    Iowan2 (bbb95d)


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