Another victory from my efforts to advance civil rights and challenge systemic sexism in higher education | American Enterprise Institute

I was informed last Friday by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) that another of my (now) 231 complaints (probably the most ever filed by an individual) alleging Title IX violations in higher education has been successfully resolved in my favor. That brings the total number of Title IX complaints to date that have been resolved in my favor to 27 and there are more than 80 ongoing OCR investigations based on my complaints that I expect to also be successfully resolved in my favor (given the clarity of Title IX above and the clear violations of that law). Successful resolutions are illegal Title IX violations involving sex-specific female-only programs that are corrected with one of three outcomes: 1) the discriminatory program is discontinued, 2) the discriminatory female-only program is offset with an equivalent male-only program, or 3) the discriminatory female-only program is converted to a program open to all genders.

Here is information about the latest successful resolution:

The University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) got funding of more than $800,000 from the National Science Foundation in 2018 to host and operate a “Computer Forensics Summer Academy & STEM CareerBuilder for Girls.” The stated goals of the sex-specific, girl-only program were: 1) “to engage with government, business, industry, and community partners to design, develop, implement, and evaluate an innovative summer program training girls [only] in Computer Forensics (CF)” and 2) “to discover what strategic partnerships and innovative interventions can effectively interest, motivate, and support female [but not male] high school juniors and seniors to pursue STEM degrees and careers.” Before UCO changed its website recently, the stated eligibility requirements at the application link were: “Please note that the 2020 Computer Forensics Summer Academy is for high school female students. The application will be unavailable for male students.”

But there was just a little problem with UCO’s sex-specific, girl-only program as it was originally created and funded — it was in complete violation of Title IX because it discriminated against male students in Oklahoma based on their sex, it explicitly and illegally excluded boys from participation based on their sex, and the University denied boys in Oklahoma from the educational benefits of the program above based on their sex. Totally. Illegal. Period.

Illegal sex-specific, female-only programs like UCO’s are being introduced all the time by universities across the country, and are often, like UCO’s, generously funded with taxpayer money through the National Science Foundation (NSF). A search of NSF’s database of awards for “STEM female” reveals hundreds of grants for discriminatory programs including William & Mary Women In Scientific Education (WISE) Initiative ($580,000), Advancing and Supporting Female STEM faculty at a University in Transition ($1.65 million), and Advancing Women in Science and Engineering in the University of Wisconsin System ($171,000). A search for “STEM girls” reveals hundreds of NSF-funded programs including Rural Girls Engaged in Math and Science Plus Technology ($1.2 million), Latina SciGirls: Promoting Middle School-Age Hispanic Girls’ Positive STEM Identity Development ($2.8 million), and Building a Learning Ecology to Increase STEM Participation Among Middle School Girls ($990,000).

So you have the NSF providing generous funding with taxpayer money to universities to promote NSF’s goal of increasing women in STEM, but that funding, like UCO’s, essentially requires the recipient to violate Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination as a condition of receiving the funding!? And most of the time, hundreds of violations of Title IX like UCO’s go undetected and unreported, often because those who are aware of the violations are unwilling to complain or report the violation, out of fear of retaliation, to the university’s Title IX office or the Office for Civil Rights.

In the case of UCO’s Title IX violation, I only became aware of the illegal girl-only, no boys allowed program because the parents of a high school boy in the Oklahoma City area contacted me in February to ask for my assistance after they found me through an Internet search. They were understandably upset that their son was very interested in computer forensics, but he “need not apply” to the UCO program that was “unavailable for male students.” In early March, I filed a Title IX complaint with the regional Office for Civil Rights in Kansas City under my name so that the couple and their son could remain anonymous and not face any adverse consequences. After a review, the complaint was opened by the OCR for a federal investigation of the university’s civil rights violation on April 16, 2020.

Last week I received notice from the OCR that UCO had requested to enter into a “Voluntary Resolution Agreement (VRA)” with OCR (see below), which when fully implemented “will resolve OCR’s concerns.” Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar, the 21st president of the UCO and its first female president in its 130-year history signed the VRA below with the OCR. The fact that the president of a university that violates Title IX signs the VRA with the OCR seems to be an indication of the seriousness of violating federal civil rights laws. And yet universities do it all the time, usually with impunity because they are almost never challenged or held accountable. That’s my motivation for filing 231 Title IX complaints (and counting) — to end the systemic sexism that infects US higher education. And part of the “boilerplate” language of OCR’s resolution agreements is “This agreement does not constitute an admission by the University of a violation of Title IX.” So even though OCR takes violations of Title IX seriously and forces universities to correct those violations with the legal force of the federal government, the university unfortunately doesn’t have to admit guilt, and they also almost never face any fines, penalties, payments or reparations. Perhaps that’s why so many universities knowingly violate Title IX — the worst-case scenario is that they get caught like UCO, make the necessary corrections to their Title IX violations so that they don’t jeopardize their federal funding, but without any serious consequences and without actually even having to admit to the violation!??

In the VRA with OCR (see below), the university was given three choices: a) eliminate the discriminatory girl-only program, b) convert the girl-only program into a coeducational program open to all genders and remove the word “Girls” from the program name to “eliminate any suggestion that it is for a single sex,” or c) make the program coeducational but retain “Girls” in the program provided that UCO can “develop and implement strategies to effectively communicate to the University community and the public that Computer Forensics Summer Academy & STEM Career Builder for Girls, notwithstanding the name, is open to all students and participants regardless of sex.”

From the updated program website, it appears that UCO selected Option B – they’ve removed “Girls” from the program name and they now describe the program as a study of “how technology-enriched interventions can encourage and support high school students with their pursuit of STEM education and careers.” So the program has apparently been converted from a girl-only program to a coeducational program, although the program URL (computeracademyforgirls.com/) still contains the word “girls” and the only photograph on the program website shows two girls. I’ve asked the OCR to address those two issues and they said they are “still in the monitoring stage for OCR to comply with the VRA” so those two issues can still be addressed.

One has to also wonder about the corporate sponsors and partners for UCO’s discriminatory program including Apple, IBM, Inciter, CGI and Stelar. Are they unaware or just unconcerned that they are funding systemic sexism in the form of illegal single-sex, female-only STEM programs at hundreds of college campuses across the country? Given the prevalence and acceptance of systemic sex discrimination in higher education, it is probably the case that Apple, IBM et al. aren’t even aware that they are funding, in their woke corporate efforts to virtue-signal, illegal sex discrimination. As more and more universities are now being held accountable for civil rights violations, maybe it’s time that America’s corporations also be held accountable for providing generous financial support that enables colleges and universities to violate the federally guaranteed civil rights of half of the relevant population.

In other Title IX updates, the OCR has recently opened investigations of Title IX violations based on my complaints for the following universities in the last month:

1. University of Virginia for its Women’s Leadership Program, which as the program name indicates is a single-sex, female-only program “designed for female executives and women with management responsibilities, especially those leading teams, direct reports and product lines and verticals.” The program costs $9,450 and is one of more than several dozen discriminatory female leadership/entrepreneurship/negotiation programs offered by universities across the country including Babson College, University of Texas-Austin, Chatham University, Carnegie Mellon, Drexel University, DePaul University, UC-San Diego, University of San Diego, Cal State-Fullerton, University of Houston, New York University, University of Minnesota, UCLA, Bentley University, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Florida Atlantic University, University of Pennslyvania and Northwestern. Title IX complaints have been filed against those 20 universities with the OCR, and are currently being reviewed. Like the University of Virginia program, I expect that the other programs will also be investigated.

2. Florida Gulf Coast University for a single-sex, female-only STEM program.

3. University of South Alabama for a single-sex, female-only STEM program.

4. Youngstown State University for a girl-only “Women in STEM Career Day.”

5. University of Maryland for nine different science, STEM, and engineering-related programs that operate exclusively for females and illegally exclude male students.

More updates to follow as the OCR opens more investigations and resolves more Title IX violations that are being challenged for the first time in an effort to hold universities accountable for their Title IX obligations by exposing the hundreds of violations that have gone unchallenged. Until now.

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