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Another college ditches girls-only programs after crusading professor files complaints

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The same every time: ‘no fines, no apologies, no admission of guilt’

Mark Perry has filed so many Title IX complaints against women-only programs and scholarships at colleges across the country that you’d think institutions would proactively make these programs gender-inclusive.

At the least it would deprive the University of Michigan-Flint economist bragging rights about his influence. Alas, that’s not how it’s happened.

Perry claimed another win after Vermont Technical College removed “girls” language from STEM and coding “camps” in the wake of his Title IX complaints to both the taxpayer-funded institution and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

He collected documentary evidence of the male exclusion from “Rosie’s Girls STEM Leadership Camp,” first offered in 2015, including repeated declarations on its website that it’s for “girls” and “young women.” The website photo also featured only girls.

On a website that Perry said disappeared before he could archive it, the “Coder Camp for Girls” also limited its accessibility to girls, specifically those entering grades 7-11.

The college has “quietly converted” both into coed, gender-neutral programs “in recent months,” Perry said, claiming it was “[a]s a result” of his complaints. The American Enterprise Institute scholar shared a six-month timeline with The College Fix upon request, documenting his correspondence with both the college and OCR.

He filed complaints about the two programs with VTC July 4 and then with OCR’s Boston office July 28. Perry said he’s since started filing OCR complaints first because of “the usually futile process of working with a university’s Title IX office.”

The college told him Sept. 4 that it was converting the girls-only programs to coed, and OCR told him Oct. 9 that his complaint was under review. It agreed to open an investigation Nov. 4 and also informed the college of that fact:

During November I exchanged multiple emails with OCR because, as they frequently do (especially Boston OCR), they wanted to know if I was aware of any specific individuals who had applied and been turned down from the programs. Of course, a Title IX complaint does not require the complainant to provide names of such fictional applicants, the burden should be on the university to defend itself when it is facially violating Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination.

Perry had a phone conference with Boston’s OCR office to review the updated VTC websites for the programs, which had “new program names, new program descriptions, new eligibility requirements and new photos that now include both males and females,” Perry told The Fix.

He was satisfied with the resolution of his complaint to VTC, and agreed with OCR that “a federal investigation was no longer necessary.” Perry got a letter from OCR summarizing their conversation earlier this month.

The STEM camp now refers to “students” instead of “girls” and otherwise removes sex-specific language, and boys now appear in photos on its website. The coder camp now refers to “youth” instead of “girls.”

The college could have simply offered boy-only versions of the programs to comply with Title IX, Perry wrote in his blog post, but evidently it’s easier to simply remove exclusive language and throw up some inclusive photos.

While he’s pleased about the changes, Perry is still miffed that colleges such as VTC “never face any real consequences” for flagrant, yearslong violations of Title IX – “no fines, no apologies, no admission of guilt,” and no recognition that they deprived half the community their statutory rights.

That’s why he’s in his fifth year of a “one-man mission” to file Title IX complaints with the federal government’s OCR. Of the nearly hundred he’s filed, Perry wrote that he’s achieved changes in about a dozen, while about 40 each are under active investigation or review by OCR.

Any college officials reading this post: You might want to task your general counsel with reviewing all your girl-focused programs and scholarships and simply removing gender-specific language, before Perry gets to them.

UPDATE: After The Fix asked Perry for documentation showing that his complaints had spurred the changes at Vermont Technical College, he provided a written timeline from his original complaints to the college and federal government through their resolution. It has been incorporated.

MORE: Library says boys are welcome in ‘Girls Who Code’ program

MORE: University hit with Title IX complaint for ‘welcom[ing]’ only women in STEM

IMAGE: John T Takai/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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