Federal Government Needs to Clarify Its Overly Broad Definition of "Sexual Harassment" on Campus, Says Free Speech Group


As I blogged a few weeks back:

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is alarmed…at a letter from the Departments of Justice and Education to the University of Montana….[which] "explicitly states that it is intended as "a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country," the Departments of Justice and Education have mandated a breathtakingly broad definition of sexual harassment that makes virtually every student in the United States a harasser while ignoring the First Amendment."

The federal government has responded to the controversy, and FIRE now responds to them in this press release. Excerpts:

[The Department of Education's] OCR's [Office of Civil Rights'] new statement contradicts its May 9 letter. For example, in the statement sent yesterday, OCR contends that "the May 9 letter explains that 'sexual harassment' is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature but that sexual harassment is not prohibited by Title IX unless it creates a 'hostile environment.'" But the May 9 letter includes no such explanation. To the contrary, the May 9 letter flatly states that "[s]exual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX and Title IV"—and then proceeds to define "sexual harassment" as "any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature," including "verbal" conduct….

"The Office for Civil Rights' weak attempt to walk back its disastrous May 9 letter is too little, too late," said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. "OCR's belated lip service to freedom of expression following a national firestorm of criticism is hardly sufficient to undo the damage of a 47-page 'blueprint' that doesn't once mention the First Amendment or freedom of speech. FIRE calls on OCR to immediately issue a swift and detailed retraction and clarification to every college and university in the country."  

"OCR argues that a broad definition of sexual harassment encourages reporting, but mandating that state and private employees must report protected expression to authorities as 'harassment' is no more acceptable than requiring the reporting of 'unpatriotic' speech as treason," Lukianoff continued."….

Matt Welch interviewed FIRE's Greg Lukianoff for Reason TV a couple weeks ago:

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  1. Yet another example of how godawful the Obama Admin is on free speech. And even if the DoE walks back this bullshit, universities will still be required to try all claims of sexual assault in kangaroo courts with the lowest standard of evidence.

    1. Yeah, campus tribunals are awful. I remember getting hauled in front of one when I was an undergrad. The “victim” in this case was a fraternity brother of mine who myself and another brother had allegedly battered. We were “convicted” pretty quickly. Nevermind that our accuser was just some busy body toady of the Dean of Students and had no actual evidence of anything or that the “victim” denied anything ever happened. Then, when I appealed the Dean told me the appeal was evidence that I did not learn my lesson.

      1. Story time. Start at the beginning.

        1. That’s the thing, it’s a terrible story because almost nothing happened. I mean sure, threats were made but it was just a bunch of hammered 20 year olds.

          1. What kind of punishment did they try to give you?

            I got busted for underage drinking a bunch of times in college, but all I had to do was skip meetings with an alcohol counselor. I remember it being satisfying to get drunk during the time I was supposed to be getting yelled at for drinking.

            1. Same shit, alcohol counseling and I was banned from campus functions for a semester. Both of which were retarded.

              1. Can someone explain to me why, after 12 years of compulsory daytime prison, one would actually want to LIVE on a college campus?

                1. one would actually want to LIVE on a college campus
                  Many colleges require this of Freshmen.

                2. “Why…one would actually want to LIVE on a college campus?”

                  It is kind of fun to live with a bunch of people your age and party all the time. And compared to high school it is incredibly free (or was then anyway). At least where and when I went to college it was pretty much impossible to get in trouble for drinking or drugs unless you had a keg in a dorm room or were openly dealing, it worked out pretty well.

                  I don’t think I’d want to now.

                3. why would anyone go to college?

      2. Oh yeah, the Dean also informed us that drinking itself was evidence of an alcohol violation because alcohol damages your liver.

        1. “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son”

      3. Did the Dean acknowledge you’d learned your lesson after you’d beaten him/her and his/her entire family senseless with a baseball bat?
        /wishful thinking

        1. No, but his wife took that long vacation, and after the mayor threatened to break his legs, and there was that dead horse in his office… he kept to himself more.

  2. Progs have assured me that political correctness is just a right-wing myth. I’m so glad that they’re right.

  3. Federal Government Needs to Clarify Its Overly Broad Definition of “Sexual Harassment” on Campus, Says Free Speech Group

    It’s far too late to hope they have nothing to do with defining sexual harassment on campus, isn’t it?

  4. But how else will we eradicate the scourge of teh MALE GAZE?

    1. Blind all males, obviously. And if you disagree, you’re ableist.

    2. Can someone define that term for me? Is it a stare or does a glance qualify?

      1. Unfortunately it’s completely subjective on the part of the gazee.

      2. If you have to ask, you’re probably doing it right now.

      3. It’s something like “the way men perceive the world.”

        1. If you read more into it though, it goes much deeper. It’s also the way that the hegemonic, patriarchal media and culture portrays women. It’s so ubiquitous that women are brainwashed to see other women (and themselves) through the male gaze.

          Think of the evil queen in Snow White, she’s looking at herself in the mirror through the lens of the patriarchy. She’s the most powerful woman in the kingdom, but her only concern is being the most beautiful. Not only that, but she is driven to being a gender traitor through a manufactured sense of beauty envy, no doubt catalyzed by the patriarchal systems in place.

          And snow white’s only function is that of an object for the male gaze of happily brainwashed wage slaves to rest upon; think of the glass coffin.

          The above examples are just a minute fraction of the way media acculturates the young boys and girls to embracing a life as an exploited and alienated worker. This acculturation perpetrated by the capitalist mass media is also why the ever present patriarchy is able to exert so much control, even to the extent of convincing womyn that their gender roles are a product of biology and not a social construct.

          1. You’re too good at that

            1. College, man.

              I learned along time ago that the best way to make good grades so that you can graduate and be a good capitalist is to think and write like a good communist. Fuck that “argue with the professor” bullshit, it is not worth my time; tried it before and all it got me was a “C” in a 1st year writing class.

  5. when I appealed the Dean told me the appeal was evidence that I did not learn my lesson.

    “Nice eddication youse gots here. Be a shame of ennyting wuz ta happens to it.”

  6. I emailed some admin once at my college when I found out they were changing the standards. She tried to reply by discrediting FIRE and sending me to some admin echo chamber website for “proof.” I was seriously considering joining one of the student conduct boards just to bring some sanity into the judging procedure, but I figured it would be a majority decision and I’d just be wasting my time.

    1. I still think you should do it. It wouldn’t be a long term commitment either because they’ll likely banish you from the board anyways and then who knows? Maybe you’ll be a martyr of sorts and inspire like minded students to protest for sanity.

      Then again, nothing may happen, but at least you’ll get to intellectually berate your peers on the board and gleefully watch them fall into spiked pits within their own logic.

  7. I think defending the second amendment from liberals by using the first amendment as an example of a sacred civil right is now a dead tactic.

    1. Perhaps we should try an analogy to abortion: “My body, my right to defend it.” Then again, liberals are pretty good at firewalling abortion off from any other conceivable individual liberty.

      1. You think a 5’0″ woman can stop a gaggle of men in a dark alley from raping her? But you don’t want her to have a gun? Do you want her to get raped?

        Ahhh, so that’s what emoting rather than reasoning for your position feels like! I should really just start doing that all the time, its a hell of a lot easier and would save me a lot of time!

        1. Maybe a gun entitlement mentality is the right angle. If you are entitle to free phones maybe free firearms would work. Of course I wouldn’t support that because I don’t want to pay for people’s guns anymore than I want to pay for their phones.

    2. That’s something I really like about the 3d printed gun — making it a first amendment issue, rather than a second amendment one. Sadly, most of the progressives/pants-shitters will just take it as an opportunity to add “descriptions of weapons” to the speech codes.

  8. Why is the Dept of Justice giving advice for a state university’s code of conduct? What the fuck is this?

    1. What you’re seeing is the logical conclusion of decades of student life “professionals” that have worked their way up through the echelons of busybodydom to reach the federal funding departments and the DOJ feelgood divisions. Having never worked a real job, they still talk and act like they are elected student representatives whose higher calling is to bring social equilibrium to the undergraduate masses.

    2. The Democrat’s getting into your bedroom.

  9. What the fuck is this?

    The Future.

  10. I guess the wisdom in the old “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me” is obsolete in the Nanny State, which increasingly makes it a crime to hurt a woman’s or a homosexual’s feelings.

  11. Can someone define that term for me?

    I think of it (the MALE GAZE) this way:

    I used to work in an especially testosterone-rich field of endeavor I(professional motor racing); a shorthand developed which boiled down to a subtle (or not) selection of a female in the crowd of observers, and the one word query, “WOULDJA?”

    I ask myself that a lot.

    And they know it.

  12. “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature”

    Does that include not having sex with me?

    1. The absence of economic activity counts as economic activity now, so I suppose the answer to your question is “yes.”

      1. Hmm. Maybe I should go back to school after all.

  13. Just a little perspective, think of an iconic photo taken in times square after the end of WWII, “the kiss”. That’s sexual assault… that sailor would be strung up today.

    1. If that woman didn’t actually want to be kissed, then it is assault. Just saying.

      1. that woman didn’t give consent…my point being the rules have changed significantly.

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