October 24 2007
IWF Policy Brief #6:When Policies Cry Wolf: A Look at Sexual Harassment Policies on Campus
Download the complete Policy Brief below.
According to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) requires that every college and university receiving public funding have a sexual-harassment policy. It also describes exactly what constitutes sexual harassment. However, a growing paternalistic trend among university administrators results in vague and overbroad policies that do more harm than good:
- They violate students' clearly defined First Amendment rights to freedom of expression.
- They induce a chilling effect on campus, inhibiting students' normal interaction.
- They foster a culture of dependency for women, as administrators begin to protect them from what they find distasteful.
A survey by the American Association of University Women indicates that many students are unaware of the true definition of sexual harassment. To solve the problem, colleges and universities need to get their policies in line with the OCR guidelines on sexual harassment in order to educate their students about the true nature of sexual harassment and what to do about it.