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Fraternity Investigated for 'Free House Tours' Banner, a Possible Title IX Violation

At Wichita State University, the bar for sexual harassment is apparently very low.

CollegeIgor Mojzes / DreamstimeThose who doubt Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's contention that federal Title IX guidance has prompted college officials to violate students' rights should look no further than Wichita State University, and its particularly galling example of sexual harassment hypersensitivity.

The administration at the public university is investigating a fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, after two members hung a banner that read "new members free house tours" from a window for five minutes, which was enough time for someone to spot it and tweet a picture of it. That happened last Friday; the fraternity has already suspended the offending members.

"The incident is being investigated as a potential conduct violation as well as a potential Title IX violation," reported The Sunflower, a student publication.

But… why?

Student Affairs Vice President Teri Hall told The College Fix, "The reason that it was 'inappropriate' was because it was hung on the side of the house facing sorority recruitment, implying that women participating in recruitment should come to their house."

This is not a very satisfying answer. Do young men really violate university policy when they invite young women to come socialize with them? Read in a maximally unflattering light, the banner seems juvenile but harmless.

But these are not ordinary times, Hall told The Sunflower:

With recruitment starting Thursday night, Hall said the incident brought "a chilly climate to campus." While the banner was "absolutely inappropriate," Hall said, the timing escalated the incident, both with recruitment beginning and with the apparent rollback of Title IX by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

"I think we're all a little more sensitive because of the statements Betsy DeVos made (Thursday)," Hall said.

University officials wrongly interpreting Title IX guidance to mean that they are required to quash any sexually-tinged expression is exactly the kind of insanity DeVos's speech is intended to counteract. But here we have an example of university officials citing the speech as justification for continuing the insanity.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sent an open letter to Hall on Tuesday evening informing her that "the banner hung at Phi Delta Theta is clearly protected by the First Amendment and does not constitute sexual harassment." As FIRE's Ari Cohn explained:

Even assuming that the banner was in fact intended to be sexual in nature, it would still not constitute sexual harassment, as it was not so "severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive" that it deprived any WSU students of access to an educational opportunity or benefit. Indeed, according to WSU itself, the banner was only visible for five minutes. Such a fleeting occurrence, combined with the fact that the banner's relation to sex was tenuous at best, simply cannot reasonably be said to have impacted any student's ability to fully participate in campus life. Equally troubling and unacceptable is Hall's comment in relation to this incident that the campus community is more sensitive because of perceptions about Betsy DeVos' Title IX enforcement plans. To be clear: such subjective heightened sensitivity is not a license to violate established law.

The letter asks Hall to immediately suspend the investigation and re-affirm the university's commitment to protecting student's free speech rights.

Did the Obama-era Office for Civil Rights foresee that its 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter regarding Title IX compliance would eventually lead universities to investigate male students for expressing the slightest, fleeting, theoretical sexual interest in unspecified but presumably female students? Probably not. But whatever the intention, Title IX has become a hammer, and every problematically sexual statement is a nail. That's why DeVos was absolutely right to signal an end to the era of "rule by letter."

For more on the injustices birthed by Title IX overzealousness, read Emily Yoffe's can't-miss series of articles in The Atlantic: here, here, and here. (Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown expounds upon some of the points raised in Yoffe's second article here.)

Photo Credit: Igor Mojzes / Dreamstime

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  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    The university's action is insulting to women, although I would be startled if any of today's feminists point that out.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "I think we're all a little more sensitive because of the statements Betsy DeVos made (Thursday)," Hall said.

    So the federal government opened this Pandora's box (absolutely inappropriate saying, btw) and now university leaders have taken full ownership of what had come out of her box.

  • Princess Trigger||

    Heh: "her box".
    [reported]

  • Crusty Juggler - Lawbertarian||

    Not mentioned in the article is the WSU athletic teams are known as the "Shockers" - which is hella problematic - and their main booster - and the man their on-campus sports arena is named after - is Charles Koch.

    This place should have been shut down years ago.

  • AlmightyJB||

    It's literally Nazi Germany.

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, then, Title IX does not apply, does it?

  • damikesc||

    Koch should pull the endowment completely.

    Otherwise, he's complicit in this idiocy.

  • Enemy of the State||

    Hah! Koch Shockers...

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    If women are actually as stupid, suggestible, fragile, and vulnerable as Feminists assert one has to ask why we would allow them in the armed forces. Why they are allowed to vote. For that matter, why they are allowed out in public off of a leash.

    Do modern Feminists ever THINK about the implications of what they say to justify their persecutions of men?

  • dantheserene||

    C.S.P.-
    Modern feminists aren't concerned with long term strategy beyond keeping up the assault everyday in every possible venue. If they have to sacrifice a few women to The Cause, so be it.

  • BearOdinson||

    These are these same women who argue that vaginal penetrative sex is ALWAYS rape.

    Because the only reason some women say they like it, is because the patriarchy has convinced them. And since conception can occur outside the woman's body, there is literally no reason for it.

    I guess none of them ever asked my dog about why he humps every other dog he sees (and he is fixed!).

  • Zeb||

    To be fair, even among crazy feminists, that's a pretty fringe view.

  • BYODB||

    I've wondered this myself. The modern feminist view of women is that they don't have any actual personal autonomy and are incapable of independent thought. Ironically, this seems to be the very viewpoint they once railed against.


    I guess it's true that after a social movement has received everything they ever wanted, they'll do anything it takes to keep their political and social machinery in place, even if it means becoming the oppressor of their own interest group.

  • Zeb||

    They were taken over by Marxists, who don't believe than anyone has any personal autonomy.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    As much as I despise Republicans, I am hoping this kind of nonsense keeps hundreds of Democrats out of political office.

  • Brandybuck||

    "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of a fraternal organization? Answer the question!"

  • Rat on a train||

    Does the university offer campus tours for prospective students, some of them under age?

  • ||

    new members free house tours

    Talk about dumbing down of the American education system/university. That's not even a very good double entendre. Student Affairs Vice President Teri Hall should be force to take down every 'Members enter here.' and 'Parking in rear.' sign on campus and be beaten with them.

    They really are making the perpetrator of the poop swastika look like a real cultural dissident and innovator.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    In this day of 800 pixel camera phones and instantaneous social media, did anyone actually get a picture of that much ballyhooed poop swastika?

  • damikesc||

    Yeah. I did see a pic of it. Not sure I buy it was done by anybody except the person filing the complaint.

  • ||

    In this day of 800 pixel camera phones and instantaneous social media, did anyone actually get a picture of that much ballyhooed poop swastika?

    You say this like it diminishes the art somehow. Cesi n'est pas una pipe, Nazsy woz ere, and all that.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    The current climate regarding Title IX is the very essence of mass hysteria; puts the Salem Witch Trials in a whole new light. When do the fits and fainting start?

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    I have a notion that Ye Olde Puritans would look at Social Justice Puritans and say, "What the hell is wrong with you people?"

  • JeremyR||

    The thing with the Salem witch trials is that eventually they realized they had acted nuts and felt bad about it. Which didn't bring the dead back, but still...

    Nowadays, I don't see much recrimination over the Satanic Panic though we've finally started letting people convicted out of jail. People who pushed it like Geraldo Rivera still have jobs.

    And I think here it's just going to be worse. It's more like the Inquisition than mass hysteria.

  • damikesc||

    University punishes make students for no reason and blames changes to Title IX for it.

    Did Obama's policy change in 2011 cause men to be unfairly attacked?

    There is a far greater case for the latter based on the claims of the former.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    It is amazing that we still have to clean up Obama's legacy.

  • damikesc||

    I also bet the person who put out the Tweet is a ton of fun.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    And butt ugly [had no chance of getting a tour, free or otherwise].

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Because there is zero truth to the stereotype that college girls like to have sex with college guys.

  • ||

    Because there is zero truth to the stereotype that college girls like to have sex with college guys.

    Because there is zero truth to the stereotype that women of virtually any age can and do exploit their sexuality to achieve their ends whether they like men or not.

    Sex because bored/stoned/drunk never happens even among people who otherwise like/love each other. Nobody ever compromises anything for sex, especially not men.

  • Zeb||

    Maybe they just thought that people might enjoy touring the house.

  • Macy's Window||

    Your comment is a Title IX violation.

  • Arcxjo||

    I'm assuming "the side of the house facing the sorority house" is the FRONT, where you'd naturally hang a sign?

  • ||

    If the sorority is to the east of the fraternity, the whole thing takes on a nice, distinct 'Feminist Jihad' flavor.

  • ||

    I'm assuming "the side of the house facing the sorority house" is the FRONT

    Except that is not what the intellectually challenged VP of Student Affairs said. The quote is "it was hung on the side of the house facing sorority recruitment". I suspect her brain got tangled up because she had to say the word 'hung'.

  • Zeb||

    Or the sorority house might have been next door.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I suspect it is not hard to find a pic of someone from that sorority flashing "the shocker".

    Here is the mascot.

    http://images.google.com/imgre.....ce=sh/x/im

  • GroundTruth||

    Who have ever thought that the 1970's would really be a better time in history?

  • Longtobefree||

    Not I.

    Life ended with the sixties.

  • SIV||

    The 1970s was peak freedom. In many ways it was the best time in history.

  • damikesc||

    I love that these snowflakes would probably laugh at the people of Salem while fervently trying to emulate them.

  • ||

    They would un-ironically call for the rounding up and burning of all of the witch-hunters.

  • creech||

    Shocking. This happened in the Koch's hometown of Wichita and not in some deep blue shithole like Massachusetts or California?

  • ||

    Academia is a monoculture. It doesn't matter where you are - you are on campus.

  • Rich||

    "The incident is being investigated as a potential conduct violation as well as a potential Title IX violation"

    as well as potential bullshit.

  • CE||

    Glad I went to college a lifetime ago. The way everything offends everyone now, our whole university would have been shut down by the second week.

  • damikesc||

    Modern students would watch "Animal House" and say "Dean Wormer is a fine guy".

  • Brendan||

    I'm starting to see why communist purges always have a kill-the-intellectuals phase.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Intellectuals are so capable of stupidity.

  • damikesc||

    To paraphrase Prager, some ideas are so stupid, they can only be blamed on higher education.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    I hope Christian is paying attention, his articles lack the "I'm now ready to die" vibe that Robby's work instills.

  • Tionico||

    displayed on the side of the subject building where anyone passing by could see constitutes "sexual harrassment"? Someone has their identity throughly vested in their perception of what lies between their legs. Time to outgrow this foul fetish and grow up.

    Not everyone views everything relating to sex/gender as offensive, sexist, discriminatory.

    Sheesh......... grow UPPP already. College age is supposed to be the last step to entry into adulthood. These whingey children have a LONG way to travel before THEY are able to walk with the adults as peers.

  • Enemy of the State||

    That's it! There will be no more sex for anyone...EVER!

  • Galane||

    George Orwell has checked off the "Anti-Sex League" box on his list of "Things that I predicted in 'Nineteen Eighty-Four'."

  • SteveMaloy||

    Well. It`s quite understandable fact that our education has a lot of problems. But this one... I don`t understand how they possibly can do that. Why they investigate such a stupid things? I just can't understand this. Soon they will investigate everything funny. Or everything unusual for them. For example, writing a dissertation introduction for 6 pages instead of 5 that was asked also will be a crime?

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