Yale comments on Title IX

Yale’s administration came forward Wednesday in defense of their compliance with Title IX.

A week after the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced an investigation into claims of a hostile sexual climate on campus, Yale College Dean Mary Miller said Yale officials believe they have not violated Title IX — a federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in schools that receive federal funding — in a Wednesday night e-mail to parents of undergraduates.

“We believe we have been in compliance with both the letter and the spirit of Title IX,” Miller wrote, “and we plan to cooperate fully with the OCR’s inquiry. I can also say that what I have heard about the substance of the complaint does not reflect the Yale that I know.”

The message came shortly after Miller sent an e-mail to students about the federal investigation Wednesday. The investigation began after a group of 16 students and alumni accused Yale of denying equal educational access to women by inadequately responding to instances of sexual misconduct in a complaint to OCR.

Miller’s e-mail drew differing reactions from two of the complainants. Alexandra Brodsky ’12, a cosignatory in the Title IX complaint, condemned the decision to defend the University only in a message to parents.

“I think Yale’s strategy is to deny all guilt of not complying with Title IX. It’s a predictable strategy,” Brodsky said. “It’s disingenuous, in fact, that she decided not to send it to students because there are many people on this campus who know [her statement] is not true.”

Complainant Hannah Zeavin ’12, however, said she is not concerned about Miller’s decision to send different messages to parents and students. Zeavin said that it would be unfair to immediately criticize Miller given the wording of her email to parents — Zeavin pointed specifically to the phrase, “we believe we have been in compliance” — adding that she doesn’t think Miller and other Yale officials are trying to disobey Title IX.

Still, Zeavin said, what University administrators believe does not necessarily corroborate with what students experience on campus.

“We still maintain that Yale is out of compliance with Title IX,” she said. “In the list of things that Miller claims in her e-mail, she cannot say she’s a Yale student. This is a complaint filed by current undergraduates and alumni that graduated less than a year ago.”

In the meantime, the administration has officially announced the creation of the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct to streamline the separate grievance boards of Yale’s 14 schools, including Yale College’s Sexual Harassment Grievance Board.

Comments

  • dembo

    The administration has had an unfortunate history of mishandling cases of harassment. I vividly remember the situation of the former Yale Glee Club director who was essentially railroaded out of his job because two students conspired to accuse him of sexual harassment. The case could not have been handled worse by administrators, who dragged their feet, didn’t do due diligence in seeking evidence, and indirectly contributed to a revolting air of homophobia because all the parties were male. I know this was a decade ago and quite a different situation, but still, it indicates that the University has had a lot of trouble dealing with this topic.

  • Skeptic

    As one who was on the “inside” when the case mentioned by “dembo” was being handled, “dembo” could not have gotten it more wrong. That case was handled as well as such unfortunate and sensitive cases could have been.

  • dembo

    I’m not sure how “inside” Skeptic could have been to say such a thing. Inside enough, I suppose, to have seen the case go on for three months while the accused professor was told to stay incommunicado; inside enough to ignore evidence of collusion among the accusers and reject evidence contrary to the accusations; inside enough to see witnesses turned away who supported the professor. The simple fact that the professor ended up leaving despite being exonerated should be enough to demonstrate that the case was mishandled.

  • Pingback: white paper