Are Males Being Discriminated Against in University Proceedings?

Men are filing lawsuits claiming they were discriminated against in sexual misconduct disciplinary proceedings, but most lawsuits don’t succeed in court.

More and more men are alleging gender discrimination in university sexual misconduct cases around the country.

District judges and prominent news outlets have recently reported a growing number of lawsuits by men who have been found guilty of sexual misconduct by universities.

The lawsuits have failed in many instances because of the difficulty of establishing discrimination in Title IX cases. Plaintiffs cannot prove gender discrimination simply by showing that Title IX policies have a “disparate impact” on men, as they can in the equal employment provision Title VII. Instead, all plaintiffs claiming discrimination in Title IX cases must prove that the school intentionally discriminated against them because of his or her sex. So even if the plaintiff proves that the school’s disciplinary proceedings were unfair, he or she would still need something like discriminatory statements from school officials.

This reasoning was most recently laid out in a ruling by U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman of Manhattan on April 21, when he dismissed a male student’s gender discrimination case against Columbia University and its board of trustees. The student was suspended for three semesters by the school for engaging in non-consensual sex with a female student. The male claimed in district court that his punishment violated Title IX’s ban on gender discrimination. But Judge Furman concluded that even if the school’s findings were wrong, he failed to show that Columbia discriminated against him because he is a man.

Furman said in his ruling that almost all Title IX gender discrimination cases have failed in court for the same reason.

Campus Safety had previously reported on a similar case where Judge Ronnie Abrams ruled in favor of Vassar College after a student claimed many of the same problems in the school’s disciplinary procedures as the male in the Columbia University case. In the Vassar case, the judge said the defendant would need explicitly discriminatory statements against males by Vassar officials or statistical evidence showing men always lose sexual misconduct cases at Vassar.

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About the Author


Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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