Due Process

DOE's Office for Civil Rights Is a Rogue Agency That Must Be Stopped

|

Harvard
Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this week, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights announced a resolution agreement with Harvard University's Law School, one of 90 colleges under investigation for violating federal gender equality laws. Notably, OCR determined that Harvard's "current and past" sexual harassment policies were inadequate. This means, in a sense, that Harvard's recently implemented policy, which was deemed unfair to accused students by several members of the law faculty, is still not good enough for OCR. Evidently, the agency wants measures put in place that trample due process even more egregiously.

Here is a list of OCR's demands:

Under the terms of the agreement, the Law School must:

  • Revise all applicable sexual harassment policies and procedures to comply with Title IX and provide clear notice of which policy and procedure applies to Law School complaints;
  • Through its Title IX Coordinator, coordinate provision of appropriate interim steps to provide for the safety of the complainant and campus community during an investigation;
  • Share information between the Harvard University Police Department and the University and notify complainants of their right to file a Title IX complaint with the Law School as well as to pursue the criminal process in cases of sexual assault or other sexual violence;
  • Notify students and employees about the Law School's Title IX coordinators and their contact information;
  • Train staff and provide information sessions for students on the policies and procedures applicable to Law School complaints;
  • Conduct annual climate assessments to assess whether the steps and measures being taken by the Law School are effective and to inform future proactive steps to be taken by Law School;
  • Review any complaints of sexual harassment filed during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years to carefully scrutinize whether the Law School investigated the complaints consistent with Title IX and provide any additional remedies necessary for the complainants; and
  • Track and submit for OCR's review information on all sexual harassment/violence complaints and reports of sexual harassment/violence filed during the course of the monitoring and responsive action taken by the Law School.

All this, in addition to the changes the law school already meekly submitted to, including implementation of a "preponderance of the evidence standard" and an appeal option for both parties in rape disputes. That's right: this federal civil rights agency is forcing Harvard to allow accusers to appeal verdicts if the accused is found innocent.

Harvard's spineless administration has accepted these insane dictates without protest. But Harvard's law professors won't be cowed so easily. Most recently, Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet blasted OCR for inventing an interpretation of the law that no court has ever recognized:

The federal government's decision that Harvard Law School violated Title IX represents nothing more than the government's flawed view of Title IX law. The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, which issued the decision, is not the ultimate decision-maker on law. The courts are responsible for interpreting the law. And I trust that the courts will eventually reject the federal government's current views. The courts' decisions to date, including the U.S. Supreme Court, show a much more balanced approach to sexual harassment, one which recognizes the importance of vindicating the rights of those victimized by wrongful sexual misconduct, while at the same time protecting the rights of those wrongfully accused, and protecting the rights of individual autonomy in romantic relationships.

OCR has essentially gone rogue, and is pushing colleges to adopt painfully unfair legal standards. But nothing will change until one institution or another stands up to the agency. Unfortunately, that institution won't be Harvard.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

94 responses to “DOE's Office for Civil Rights Is a Rogue Agency That Must Be Stopped

  1. They’re not a rogue agency, they’re doing exactly what the executive wants.

    1. They’re a compliant agency of a rogue government.

      1. Any Republican that stands up to Obama and sometimes Holder,is labeled a “racist”. That is why they don’t bother. Not only that but Boehner is a wuss. Make Trey Gowdy the next Speaker.

  2. Harvard’s recently implemented policy, which was deemed unfair to accused students by several members of the law faculty, is still not good unfair enough for OCR.

    FTFY

  3. Conduct annual climate assessments to assess whether the steps and measures being taken by the Law School are effective

    Oh, FFS! Why not mandate *continuous* “weather” assessments?

    1. Don’t you mean “whether” assessments?

    2. I smell a new degree program, Meteorologist of Sex.

      And the ‘Weather Report with a Beat’, brought to you by Jezebel condoms, “Spiked, for his discomfort”.

      1. It’s guaranteed not to be hot or wet any time soon

    3. Does Harvard Law School have a significant effect on climate change?

      1. Yes, it produces scads of econuts and lobbyists.

  4. So Harvard won’t be compliance until they provide the lynch mobs with a rope AND a hangin tree.

    1. Just add an unsupported accusation.

      Some assembly required.

    2. No, no, no – you have them all wrong. They don’t want martyrs.

      Compliance will be found in Room 101.

  5. “OCR has essentially gone rogue, and is pushing colleges to adopt painfully unfair legal standards. But nothing will change until one institution or another stands up to the agency. Unfortunately, that institution won’t be Harvard.”

    And we have an early leader in the 2015 “Captain Obvious” award!

    For the most part, the Harvard Faculty buys into the whole OCR agenda. The few faculty members who protest will be ostracized as part of the “Rape Culture.”

    1. Only a misogynist would want accused rapists to be treated the same way as accused murderers!

  6. It’s from an administration that wouldn’t recognize constitutionality if it fell on them.

    Actually, I’d like to see that happen. Hard.

  7. The whole DOE is a rogue agency that must be stopped.

    1. But if one smallest agency can hold the entire shitty system hostage, then what’s not to like?

    2. I was about to ask which one – but realize it works either way. Assume you’re staying on topic and it’s Education.

      Favorite question of mine for DOE(d) defenders:
      “If the Department of Education were shut down today, is there a single school in the country that could not open tomorrow?”

      1. A lot of colleges would go kaput without student loan payments.

        1. In the long run, would they be missed?

        2. I don’t know about that. I’m sure that complying with federal policies isn’t cheap. So they could cut costs that way if there was no longer an agency to enforce those policies. And they could trim back costs additionally by getting rid of superfluous administrative posts. College was once affordable enough that students didn’t really need loans, before the federal government got involved that is. There’s no reason why getting the federal government out of education wouldn’t raise the opportunity to lower the cost.

          1. College was once affordable enough that students didn’t really need loans

            When was that? Before government involvement in college funding, the vast majority of people did not go to college.

            1. Fifty years ago it was a totally different job climate. You could go to work at the factory out of high school and make a decent living. Unless you wanted to be a professional, there really wasn’t much of a need for a college education. My mother has her first bill from college in a frame on the wall. I don’t remember the numbers, but it wasn’t a lot of money.

              1. It used to be realistic for someone to be able to work their way through college working the sort of job that you can get out of high school. Now it’s more per year than most graduates’ in actually useful fields are likely to get as a starting salary for a good private school.

              2. There go the goalposts.

                1. Referring to sarcasmic’s 12:53 comment.

                  I mean that could be a dictionary definition of moving the goalposts, it’s so pure.

                  1. How is that moving the goalposts? You asked when college was affordable, and I answered the question.

                    Once government got involved in college funding, then the costs went up. It’s not mere correlation either. It’s what happens when a third party is involved in paying the bill. That’s why most medical care costs more. The patient isn’t involved in the billing process. They pay their insurance and the insurance pays for the care. That separation allows the costs to go up more easily than if the patient paid themselves. Same with college. When the government loans pay for everything, rather than the student, then there is no incentive to keep costs down. The student doesn’t care. They’re not paying for it. Not yet anyway.

                    1. Once government got involved in college funding, then the costs went up.

                      I figured this out when I was a freshman in collegee a quarter century ago. (Yikes that makes me feel old.) After filling out the financial aid forms, the college would come up with some determination of how much the family could aford to pay, with the rest being made up in scholarships, work-study, and loans. It very quickly dawned on me that if there was more financial aid, the school would still claim families could afford the same amount, and the extra money could go towards raiding tuition.

                  2. My original point in response to your comment about colleges closing without government funding is that they could cut costs if they wanted to. But right now there is no incentive. As long as most students are going to get government loans rather than pay as they go, they don’t care about the cost. What incentive is there for colleges to figure out how to reduce cost? It isn’t there.
                    Rather than colleges closing, I believe that college education would become much cheaper absent government loans.

                  3. Go piss on someone else’s floor.

            2. You say that like it was a bad thing.

            3. College was once correctly valued enough that the majority of people didn’t need to go to college to get a decent job. And people who wanted to go could afford it without loans, even the helpless poor people who are now buried under mountains of debt from the “help” of the benevolent government.

    3. Be careful with that acronym, you don’t want to impugn the Dept of Energy with this crap.

      1. Screw them too. If the entire staff at the department of energy walked off today, I guarantee the lights in my house will still be on tomorrow.

      2. Yes, there are entirely separate things to impugn Energy for…

  8. Sounds like their boss must have “had a bad experience” while he was president of the Law Review.

  9. FWIW, Harvard admin is playing for time. Sure, it’s chickenshit, but the strategy is to comply (on the surface), schedule endless conferences and committees, delay implementation until all relevant voices can be heard, and wait out the current regime.

  10. You know, when I read a story like this, a little part of me longs to bring back tar and feathers. If elected officials knew there was some potential downside to pushing tyranny like this, they might be a little more reticent to push their agendas this way.

    1. Too much safety hedging on their part. They’ve removed the usual feedback signals that normally maintain stability.

      When the flag goes up tar and feathers will be considered too much of a courtesy.

      1. When the balloon goes up.

    2. I’m sure that in the middle of your tar and feather party for the DOE, some representative from OSHA would show up and cite you for:

      a) Not providing proper safety equipment to protect mob members from hot tar
      b) Not providing proper safety equipment to protect mob members who may be allergic to chicken feathers
      c) Improper storage of hot tar
      d) Failure to provide the proper number of breaks to mob members (often requiring them to go on for hours without a break)
      e) Failure to hang posters about mob member rights in a prominent area to make mob members aware of the government protections that they enjoy.

      And I’m sure that there are many more.

      1. That is, if they can cite someone while coated in pitch and down.

      2. When OSHA shows up to deliver the citation, just make sure you have enough tar and feathers for their rep too.

  11. Okay, I’m no lawyer. Perhaps someone who is can help me out.

    I thought courts presided over criminal matters and I thought schools provided education?

    Can someone point out the error of my assumptions?

    1. Courts have to provide due process, whereas schools are not restricted by constitutional principles. The progressives think they found a loophole around the rights of the accused.

      They think Harvard being a private institution gives cover despite the policy being dictated by the feds. It is almost elegant, despite being evil.

      1. Could the DoE require private institutions to practice racial segregation?

    2. Well, schools can’t send you to prison. They just kick you out with no refund and ruin your reputation.

      1. It’s almost as if technically non-coercive actions still can have significant negative consequences.

        Now apply it to employer-employee relationships and see where it leads you w/r/t labor laws.

        1. It leads me to believe that Harvard is being force by the Feds to enact silly standards that will hurt innocent people.

          It also leads me to believe that if your employer/ex employer is engaging in slander/libel or providing unsatisfactory working conditions, you are free to sue them and find employment elsewhere.

    3. I thought courts presided over criminal matters and I thought schools provided education?

      Proggies are returning to their roots and trying to create a parallel court system; and ecclesiastical one. Worked out great in 16th century Spain, so why not bring it back.

  12. a little part of me longs to bring back tar and feathers

    Ha! And then the EPA would be on your ass for polluting with tar and Fish & Wildlife would charge you with killing an endangered species.

    1. Chickens are endangered?

      1. If they get anywhere near my kitchen, they are.

    2. It’s traditionally pine tar and chicken feathers, so I think it’s OK.

      And failing that, you could always go with honey and fire ants.

      1. I think pine tar is being too nice. Lets move on to roofing tar. Most people think of it as being that kind anyway.

        1. It would certainly be more cost effective.

  13. I read a note/post the other day in a surprising place (mayb Volokh?) saying that the DoE should flat out disband the Office of Cvil Rights entirely

    Maybe it was a quote from the referenced WSJ editorial; i don’t recall. I was surprised at the vehemence of the distaste for the organization from what seemed to be otherwise staid, institutional sources = college administrators, professors, etc. Typically critics suggesting “shutting down parts of government” come from the people entirely outside the regulated system. The fact that institutional bureaucrats are revolting is a sign of just how bad they really are.

    This blog notes something similar in OCRs efforts in other areas =

    “The letter outlines OCR’s interpretation of its own “disparate impact” regulations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race or national origin in federally funded institutions. It runs over 37 pages, including 63 elaborate endnotes. The DCL systematically conflates “disparate impact” with intentional discrimination;….All this goes a million miles beyond the requirements of the Constitution; of Title VI; and even of OCR’s own (legally dubious) disparate impact regulations. Yet it can’t be challenged in any court, anywhere”

    1. That entire blog post is worth reading, BTW. It clarifies how OCRs methods of “government by guidance” = “a prescription for a banana republic”

      He compares OSR methods to a Peronist regime, which never attempts to have the actual limits of its power tested in a court of law, but rather endlessly insinuates itself into authority via influence and political pressure.

      OCR Letter = “Ideally, the district would designate one or more employees to coordinate the district’s compliance with Title VI, including self-assessments of resource comparability. Designating one person responsible for overseeing compliance may aid in identifying and addressing any patterns or systemic problems that arise during the assessment and review of any complaints of discrimination.”

      Whereupon compliance officers across the country can be heard clearing their throats: “I can help”. Also, they call their educational consultant-friends and perhaps the local carpet store. And if the superintendent doesn’t play ball, they call OCR. It’s the administrative state and “cooperative federalism” all the way down, and up.”

  14. Revise all applicable sexual harassment policies and procedures to comply with Title IX

    Is that the part of Title IX reading, “some students are more equal than others”?

    1. Replace “some students” with “students possessing a vagina” and you are correct.

      1. But Title IX prohibits sex discrimination.

        1. Does that me she HAS to pull a train? That you HAVE to fill her?

  15. The federal government’s decision that Harvard Law School violated Title IX represents nothing more than the government’s flawed politically beneficial view of Title IX law.

  16. Communists always eat their own. Mao killed 30 million of his own people.

    1. This is worth repeating.

  17. Communists always eat their own. Mao killed 30 million of his own people.

    1. Hear, hear!

  18. Communists always eat their own. Mao killed 30 million of his own people.

    1. Preach on!

  19. Communists always eat their own. Mao killed 30 million of his own people.

    1. Ok, maybe taking it a little far.

  20. Communists always eat their own. Mao killed 30 million of his own people.

    1. Seriously, we get it.

  21. Communists always eat their own. Mao killed 30 million of his own people.

    1. Fuck off already!

  22. And people wonder why college costs so much …

  23. When the flag goes up tar and feathers will be considered too much of a courtesy.

    The black flag?

    “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” ? H.L. Mencken,

  24. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which issued the decision, is not the ultimate decision-maker on law. The courts are responsible for interpreting the law.

    Kinda scary that a member of the Harvard Law faculty hasn’t been paying attention to what SCOTUS has been saying about ‘deference’ for at least 30 years. And more and more agencies – like the FDA, Dept. of Agriculture and the FCC – are getting their own enforcement arms for a reason. There is no higher authority than a little tin god bureaucrat with a gun and a badge and a Napoleon complex. God help you if you fail to respect their authoritah.

    1. The Harvard law professor never thought the state would turn on him. Just those icky people he didn’t like.

  25. I’d love to see a school tell them to go to hell by having their sexual assault policy to be immediately opening a criminal investigation upon any report of sexual misconduct and to always prosecute false allegations

  26. DOE = Department of Energy.

    Just sayin.

    1. A deer! A female deer!

      Everybody!….?

    2. Better get rid of both DOE’s just to be safe.

  27. my co-worker’s step-mother makes $82 /hour on the laptop . She has been fired from work for ten months but last month her pay was $13096 just working on the laptop for a few hours. check here……..
    ?????http://www.netjob70.com

  28. Communists eating their young. Mao killed 30 million of his own people, Harvard supports Communist Policy. ENJOY the other edge of the Marxust sword

    1. I hadn’t heard that before.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.