Title IX is an anti-sex discrimination statute dating back to 1972. If you read the text of it, it sounds pretty good:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

But Title IX enforcement today goes far beyond the basic guarantee of equal rights in education. Of course, many are familiar with the “three-pronged test” which has resulted in unfair athletic quotas and the cutting of men’s sports teams. But the most recent expansion of Title IX is into the arena of sexual harassment on campus.

The Obama Administration issued guidance that effectively required colleges to be extremely aggressive in combatting sexual assault, even to the point of lowering the standard of proof in sexual assault investigations. The results have been scary, and for some students, harmful to their reputation, education and job opportunities, and even their health and wellbeing.

The latest case that demonstrates how ridiculous Title IX enforcement has become is this sad story from the University of Southern California:

Football team kicker Matt Boermeester was roughhousing with his girlfriend Zoe Katz, a tennis athlete, when a neighbor saw the two and reported an assault. The assault allegation was passed along to the football team, and then passed along to the school’s Title IX office. Here’s more of the story from the LA Times

Katz said she was summoned to a mandatory meeting with Title IX officials, where she told investigators that the two were playing around. Katz was subsequently told that she “must be afraid of Matt,” she said. She told officials she was not. Boermeester has not been arrested or charged with a crime.

“When I told the truth about Matt, in repeated interrogations, I was stereotyped and was told I must be a ‘battered’ woman, and that made me feel demeaned and absurdly profiled,” Katz said. “I understand that domestic violence is a terrible problem, but in no way does that apply to Matt and me.”

Katz said that she has “never been abused, assaulted or otherwise mistreated by Matt.”

Of course, we are all sympathetic to the fact that sometimes abused women might be too fearful to speak out against their attackers. Sexual assault on campus is likely both underreported (by fearful victims) and over-reported (in false accusations). It’s complicated. Perhaps there is more to even this story than meets the eye.

Those who report being victims of sexual assault deserve to be listened to. But from what is known in this case, it was Title IX officials who refused to believe a young woman who insisted she was never harmed.  It’s not clear what, if any, real evidence there was that any abuse had taken place. Now a young couple is barred from seeing one another, and the young man is banned from campus.

There’s hope that things will change. Some of the Obama-era guidance on Title IX and sexual assault is currently under review, including the lower standard of proof.