In recent years, the Department of Education (DOE) has chosen to send several “dear colleague” letters to all universities in the United States whereby it has presumed to progressively redefine Title IX to include three troubling new directives under the auspices of the 1972 law.
The first directive sets forth the “transgender accommodation” mandate. It specifies that any male student who declares himself to be female must now be given full access to all female facilities and programs.
The second directive specifies how colleges must investigate and adjudicate allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault. It actually requires a process that often circumvents local law enforcement and its corresponding constitutional protections of all involved parties.
A third directive, defines any unwelcome “verbal conduct of a sexual nature” as “sexual harassment.” It, thus, requires a university to investigate and discipline student speech in a manner deemed acceptable to the DOE. Failure to measure up to any of these directives could result in a university being cited as “out of compliance” and, therefore, subject to Title IX penalties.
For reasons I can only hope are obvious to most thinking people, Oklahoma Wesleyan University objects to these decrees.
We object to the DOE’s transgender accommodation mandate. We view this as sadly misguided at best and blatantly misogynistic in the extreme. Title IX was established in 1972, primarily, to give women equal access to athletic programs and facilities. How can we give women equal access to anything if we accept the fallacious argument that a woman is not a biological reality but, rather, simply a postmodern construct of subjective feelings? The DOE’s transgender mandate is anti-woman and anti-science for it denies that a woman is an empirical fact and forces us to celebrate the “female” as little more than an emotional fabrication. This is something OKWU will not do.
We object to the DOE’s denial of the legal rights of our students. All students at OKWU have the constitutional right to avail themselves of the full protection of the law whether they are accused of a criminal act or believe they are its victim. OKWU has always turned over all claims of criminal behavior to the local police and we will continue to do so. To the extent the DOE requires us to convene a kangaroo court that denies our students their due process and legal protections in investigating and adjudicating an allegation of criminal conduct, we will not do so.
We object to the DOE’s presumption that it has any authority to police and/or penalize the protected speech of our students. This is simply beyond the pale. As an educational institution, OKWU speaks openly and “liberally” on all matters of culture, ethics, justice and morality. We teach our students and our community why we find certain behaviors to be moral and why we view others behaviors as immoral. Will the DOE now judge that our “speech” on these matters is a “threat” to those who disagree with us? Will we then be found to be out of compliance with what the government defines as acceptable thinking? Will the thought-police of the DOE now presume to penalize us for our “unacceptable” views? Such state sponsored mind control would make even Orwell and Huxley shudder in their graves.
Oklahoma Wesleyan will not comply with any mandate that compromises the privacy of a woman’s locker room, bathroom and shower. We will not deny our students their right to due process when they are accused of a crime or when they suffer as its victim. Finally, we will not accept the arrogance of any state official trying to tell us what we can and cannot think or say on our campus or in our classrooms.
The DOE’s overreach in these matters is about as unconstitutional and anti-liberal as you can get. This is a university, my land. It is not a police state or a kangaroo court.
Photo credit: Intel Free Press (Creative Commons) – Some rights reserved
Dr. Everett Piper is president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
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