Few issues have taken U.S. higher education by storm in the way Title IX did over the course of the era of heightened enforcement (defined for the purpose of this study as the period between the issuance of the Office for Civil Rights’ Dear Colleague letter on April 4, 2011 and Donald Trump’s inauguration as President in January 2017). The Dear Colleague letter and subsequent regulatory actions elicited a wide range of reactions from stakeholders: the White House; federal, state, and local lawmakers; university faculty and administrators; activists and advocacy groups; defenders of due process; students and their parents; the media; and the general public.
While understanding official guidance documents from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is critical to comprehending what happened during the era of heightened enforcement, by themselves, they do not offer a complete picture of the pressures faced by institutions grappling with their responsibilities under the law and their desire to cultivate safe and equitable campuses free from sexual violence. For university administrators trying to fulfill their responsibilities under the law and to their campus communities during this frenzied period of attention to Title IX, myriad external pressures were at play. This flurry of activity suggests that OCR achieved its macro-level objective of raising awareness around the issue of campus sexual violence. What remains unclear is the impact of the frenzy (and the various external pressures that comprised it) on the micro level—that is, on the capacity of specific institutions to deliver on their responsibilities under the law and on their own internal objectives for addressing sexual violence on their campuses.
Through interviews with leaders across higher education institutions in the American Association of Universities, this study sought to understand the extent to which the era of heightened enforcement—and the flurry of activity surrounding it—helped or hindered institutional ability to achieve the intended outcomes articulated by OCR in the Dear Colleague letter—namely, to eliminate sexual violence on college campuses, “prevent its recurrence, and address its effects” (OCR, 2011, p. 2).
|Commitee:||Casteen, John T., Pritchett, Wendell|
|School:||University of Pennsylvania|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-A 80/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Law, Education Policy, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Dear colleague letter, Sexual assault, Title IX|
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