Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Title IX Complaint Forces Tulane University to Stop Offering Female-only Scholarships

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Tulane University has reached an agreement with the federal government to stop discriminating against men by offering female-only scholarships and financial aid. The announcement marks a rare victory for men in this increasingly hostile post-#MeToo climate.

“By September 6, 2019, the University will ensure that it is not treating male students differently on the basis of sex by providing different amounts of financial assistance, limiting eligibility for financial assistance … or otherwise discriminating with respect to financial assistance," the agreement said.

Furthermore, Tulane has agreed to provide updated training to its financial aid officers to ensure "nondiscrimination in financial assistance."

The agreement follows a complaint placed with the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights by Virginia Title IX attorney Margaret C. Valois. The complaint argued that six of Tulane's scholarships were discriminatory because they were not made available to male students. The scholarships included the Landor Lewis and Shirley Gauff Award and the Grace Hopper Celebration Award, as well as the school's Summer Internship Funding Grant, which provided up to $2,000 annually for female students to incentivize them to accept unpaid internships.

"Tulane's implementation of Title IX provides greater educational opportunities for female students than for male students. When opportunities and benefits are offered to one group because of their sex … it is patently unfair," said Valois in August when she filed the complaint.

Valois added that while she supports the original intent of Title IX to ensure equality for women, she contends that it has gone too far and has ultimately led to males being underrepresented on college campuses and facing regular discrimination in Title IX trials that violate due process. In fact, Valois spends much of her time providing legal counsel to students accused of sexual misconduct.

"For decades, we’ve been focused on ensuring that women had opportunities to pursue their educations, and those efforts succeeded, resulting in student bodies now being around 60 percent female," said Valois. "The tables have turned, and this case acknowledges that reverse-discrimination exists against men in academia."

According to PJ Media, the full extent of Tulane's discrimination against male students is unknown, as the six scholarships named in the complaint were the only ones that could be found on the school's website. However, PJ Media notes that "private universities typically do not list all scholarships on their website."

PJ Media also observed that male students are already in the minority at Tulane and therefore, providing scholarships that benefit strictly the school's majority is unethical and discriminatory. And University of Michigan-Flint professor Mark Perry contends that male students could perceive the disparities in enrollment and graduate rates and the financial discrimination that they continue to encounter as a message that they are not valued or welcome on college campuses.

"These disparities send a subtle, or maybe even not so subtle, message to male students that they are less valued than women today in higher education," Perry told PJ Media.

"Not only are men the minority gender today in higher education for both enrollment and degrees, but they are often treated like they have out-of-favor, marginalized minority status," Perry added.

Valois is hopeful that the agreement struck with Tulane will send an important message to other colleges. "I am optimistic that Tulane, and other schools as well, will recognize the need for change across the board in their academic programs, and that this agreement can serve as a road map to that change," Valois told PJ Media.

If Tulane does not uphold its resolutions, it could lose federal funding. Unfortunately, as observed by the Daily Wire, it's highly unlikely the school would lose its funding, since "no school has actually lost its funding over Title IX."

And because the threat over federal funding is an empty one, Tulane spokesman Michael Strecker seemed to take no issue with flaunting the school's willingness to circumvent the agreement. "This resolution agreement contains no admission of liability, non-compliance or wrongdoing by Tulane," Strecker said. "This resolution agreement does not impact sex-restrictive institutional scholarships. Title IX allows for sex-restrictive scholarships as long as the total pool of scholarship money is fairly distributed between men and women.”

According to the Daily Wire, Tulane is not the first or only school to be targeted for its discriminatory practice of offering sex-restrictive scholarships. Kursat Christoff Pekgoz, a doctoral student at the University of Southern California, has launched an effort to target schools such as Yale University for providing female-only scholarships even as women remain the majority on campus and amongst graduates.

Image: Screenshot of Tulane website

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