It should come as little surprise to anyone familiar with modern academia that many sexual harassment policies on college campuses are unclear, overly broad, and selectively enforced. But the consequences of these bad policies are seldom discussed. IWF’s campus director, Allison Kasic, and an IWF former junior fellow, Kate Schindler, explore this topic in a new IWF policy brief, “When Policies Cry Wolf: A Look at Sexual Harassment Policies on Campus,” and urge campuses to embrace clear, common sense policies that target true harassment.

Here’s the executive summary, but don’t miss the whole report which includes examples of some of the most outrageous sexual harassment policies around:

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.