Profs Push Back

Due process concerns

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The Office for Civil Rights (OCR)—the little-known federal agency most responsible for the current crackdown on free expression and due process on college campuses—has gained a powerful critic: the American Association of University Professors.

OCR is responsible for ensuring that universities are compliant with Title IX, the federal law guaranteeing gender equality in higher education. But in recent years, the office has exceeded its mandate by encouraging college administrators to broadly police accusations of harassment on campus. This has led to several students and faculty members being investigated simply for articulating unpopular opinions. One such professor, Northwestern University's Laura Kipnis, was famously subjected to a Title IX inquisition because she complained about Title IX in an article for The Chronicle Review.

The office has gone too far, the AAUP writes in a new report on the law's chilling effect on academic freedom, called "The History, Uses and Abuses of Title IX." Cases like Kipnis' have "compromised the realization of meaningful educational goals" and "upended due process rights and shared governance in unprecedented ways," according to the report.

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