Actually, Glenn, University Presidents Should Have Done This

Glenn Reynolds points to this story about Senator James Lankford challenging the Department of Education's "Dear Colleague" letters under the Administrative Procedures Act.  Lankford argues that the letters, which essentially end due process on campus for men accused of any sort of sexual misconduct from telling dirty jokes to rape in the name of Title IX enforcement, represent a new regulation that should have been subject to official publication and public comment.

Instapundit says that Marco Rubio should have done this, rather than taking the DEA's side.  Fair enough, but I have what I think is a better question -- why has not one single major university President brought a legal challenge against these letters?  Many of them complain, at least in private, and the letters certainly appear to me to be an illegal overreach.  But they all just rolled over and accepted it -- college Presidents all have become total lapdogs of the state.  They tend to preen that they and their universities are "leaders", but I would argue that they are leaders only in the sense that a random guy standing on a boxcar of a moving train and pointing forward is the leader of the train.

You want leadership?  Show me the first college President that formally rewrites their admission process to say "a minimum entry requirement will be the ability to maturely listen and respond to differing opinions without needing to crawl into and hide in a room full of stuffed animals and coloring books."

Postscript:  From Lois McMaster Bujold's Komarr

"People have some very odd illusions about power.  Mostly it consists of finding a parade and nipping over to place yourself at the head of the band.  Just as eloquence consists of persuading people of things they desperately want to believe.  Demagoguery, I suppose, is eloquence sliding to some least-moral energy point.... Pushing people uphill is one hell of a lot harder.  You can break your heart, trying that."

It is weird to say that Bujold gets underrated, given all her awards, but I think she does -- in large part because her books are fun and enjoyable to read rather than gravid and soul-sucking, as seems to be the current SF fashion.


  1. Pinebluff:

    "...why has not one single major university President brought a legal challenge against these letters?"

    Follow the money. Give the Feds credit for bribing schools before bringing out the due process stick.

  2. HFB:

    As much better thinkers on this than I have said, I think this was more of a "That's a nice school you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it..." problem. The Feds control so much of the funding of kids' higher education, that they would be risking ruin were the kids' loans to not be approved. With the admin-heavy level of funding required to run schools, it would soon be the end or back to BAU.

    My personal belief is that this is entirely how we are going to be ruled for the foreseeable future. The gubmint taxes state residents for state programs it has no right being involved in with the intent of returning the money back to the state programs-as long as you toe the line. While in some cases small (i.e. NOT ACA) the financial impact to resident taxpayers is too much to overcome if the state (schools in this case) wants to ignore the Feds.

  3. Hal_10000:

    This ^^^. Back in 1989, the Feds passed an incredibly invasive law to combat the "scourge" of campus drugs and alcohol (by means other than dropping the drinking age). It threatened their funding and the University Presidents rolled over. Title IX actions carry the intrinsic threat of revoking federal funds, including research funds. They will always roll over. Because they know SCOTUS won't stand with them. If the Feds every play hardball with a University, that school would be destroyed.

  4. Tom Lindmark:

    University presidents are no different than the CEO of any large company. You go the direction your customers (students) and financiers (government) want you to go. There is no real constituency that matters to them which is not whole-heartedly behind the current campus trends. When that changes the direction will change. In the meantime don't expect managers who are interested in protecting their sinecure to act any differently.

    On a more positive note, I suspect that eventually the courts will put a stop to the nonsense. While it will take a long time to invalithe procedures required by the "Dear Colleague" letter, it amounts to such a clear abridgement of fundamental constitutional protections that it cannot stand any strict scrutiny. In the near term, the tort lawyers are likely to do the heavy lifting as they pick the pockets of the universities dumb enough to harm students via these policies.

  5. Matthew Slyfield:

    "Instapundit says that Marco Rubio should have done this, rather than taking the DEA's side."

    Since when does the The Drug Enforcement Agency have a side in this fight. Department of Education would be DoE or maybe DEd if you want something distinct from the Department of Energy.

  6. HFB:

    I don't see this as a good analogy (most analogies fall short anyway) but I do think it reinforces my point below: the feds are trying to strong-arm the universities into doing things the Feds want, not whatstudents want. The Feds hurt BAU by not financing the student loans to a school that won’t fall in line, even if the student qualifies and the school he chooses should be irrelevant. If all schools have to follow to get funding, the student’s choices are being reduced from Fed involvement.

    It’s also the government and a whole lot different than straight supply/demand/financing relationships.

  7. ThomasA:

    A school that could survive without federal funds (Harvard, Stanford, MIT) could afford to try this. Most others can't; they would be bankrupted if the funds got cut off for even a single year. Now why Harvard, Stanford, et. al. don't fight this is another question.

    At most schools, ruining the reputation of one or two innocent young men a year is a price the presidents are willing to pay to keep their jobs.

  8. ThomasA:

    If you dance with the devil, you have to pay the piper. Everything old is new again.