News of DOJ/DOE Mandate Spreads

May 14, 2013

Pressure continues to build in reaction to last week’s mandate from the Departments of Justice and Education regarding sexual harassment on campus. 

Following up on Robert Shibley’s article for The Daily Caller, FIRE’s co-founder Harvey Silverglate has co-authored a piece with Juliana DeVries for Minding the Campus, which argues that the new mandate guarantees that "[n]either justice nor education will be well served." In fact, Silverglate and DeVries explain that the new guidance will firmly "establish a culture of censorship and self-censorship on our nation’s campuses." Last night, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff aired similar concerns on HuffPost Live, discussing how the mandate’s shocking overreach will wreck havoc on campus. Viewers can catch Greg’s perspective here

Others have joined the chorus as well. On his site The Volokh Conspiracy, Eugene Volokh points out that the new definition of sexual harassment put forth by the government "is not limited to material that a reasonable person would find offensive." As a result, Volokh argues that "[e]very instance of such material of a ‘sexual nature,’ under the government’s approach, would be ‘sexual harassment’ and would need to be banned." Syndicated columnist Mona Charen echoes this point in a column today, explaining that harassment is now "entirely subjective." Under the new definition, virtually every student on campus will be guilty of harassment on a regular basis. The Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto accurately lampooned such a result as "Life Imitat[ing] ‘South Park’." Sadly, a hypothetical case of Everyone v. Everyone may not be so far-fetched in the wake of the DOE/DOJ letter. (Given that it’s "South Park," this video has some strong language and may not be appropriate for work.) 

We encourage readers to learn more about the new federal mandate from these reports and the additional articles highlighted below. More importantly, we encourage you to take action by telling the government to protect student rights on campus! 

Cases:  Departments of Education and Justice: National “Blueprint” for Unconstitutional Speech Codes