Princeton 2nd Ivy to face Title IX probe for excluding males

The U.S. Department of Education has launched a Title IX investigation into allegations that Princeton University unfairly excludes men from two of its educational programs. 

According to a July 9 letter, the department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is investigating two Princeton programs: Smart Women Securities, which offers seminars to aspiring women investors, and the school’s female-only Rape Aggression Defense program.

Both programs are only open to women, which—pending the results of the OCR investigation—may be a violation of Title IX, a federal civil rights law mandating that no student be excluded from an educational program due to their sex. 

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Though neither program is directly funded by the U.S. government, the OCR claims jurisdiction to investigate because Princeton receives federal assistance in other forms, such as tax breaks, student loans, and Pell Grants. 

The probe was opened due to a complaint filed on March 2. To protect his career, the person who filed that complaint requested his identity be kept confidential, but he told Campus Reform that he’s hopeful about the investigation.

He believes that the OCR’s willingness to investigate the anti-assault program is a sign that OCR is waking up to the idea that men can also be victims of assault, which he said isn’t often acknowledged by academic institutions. 

“Maybe they are trying to signal to the public that men have the same rights to report sexual assault and harassment that women have,” he mused, noting that “male victims find it very difficult to come forward in the current climate.” 

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The merit of the complaint hasn’t yet been determined, the OCR stressed. A full investigation could take months, if not years. 

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the average OCR probe into a Title IX complaint takes 1,469 days, and federal investigators are currently working through a backlog of nearly 1,800 complaints, some of which date back to 2010. 

In a statement to Campus Reform, Princeton University spokesman Michael Hotchkiss said the school is “reviewing the two programs referenced in the OCR’s letter and appreciate the opportunity to respond in due course,” adding that Princeton “is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive learning environment on campus.” 

Princeton is the second Ivy League school to fall under OCR investigation after Yale University, which has remained under investigation since April 26. Similar investigations are also underway at the University of Southern California and the University of Texas at Austin

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