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College cancels girls-only computer camp to resolve federal Title IX investigation

Rather than open the camp to boys

Title IX really means what it says, and the Department of Education is finally taking the law seriously.

In response to the ongoing crusade against anti-male bias by a University of Michigan-Flint professor, the Illinois Institute of Technology opted to end its annual “Computer Discovery Camp for Girls” and a related Saturday club for participants in the camp.

Economist Mark Perry, who filed a Title IX complaint with the department’s Office for Civil Rights in Chicago and was notified of the investigation’s conclusion, shared the private college’s July 8 resolution agreement with The College Fix.

“It’s noteworthy because it represents a new national development and trend in higher education – universities that violate Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination are finally being challenged and are being forced by the OCR to stop the prevalent illegal discrimination that happens at most universities across the country,” he wrote in an email:

We’ve entered a new era where Title IX and federal civil rights laws are for the first time being applied consistently after many decades of very selective enforcement of Title IX. The OCR now seems serious about enforcing Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination, including sex discrimination against males.

The college agreed to either “cease to offer” the camp and club, or change the policies and advertising around the two activities to make clear they are open to all students regardless of sex. This would include changing its name, revising the website and modifying recruitment practices. It promised to notify OCR by July 31 which path it took.

Perry told The Fix Friday that an OCR attorney told him the college decided to scrap the programs entirely rather than make them explicitly open to boys as well as girls.

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OCR’s notification letter to Perry last week said the college sought a voluntary resolution before the investigation concluded. The feds reviewed documentation that showed girls grades 7-9 were eligible for the camp, which focused on STEM subjects and “leadership.” Fewer than 100 participated each year:

The website featured only female participants and the Camp flyer used the term “girls” when referring to participants. According to Illinois Tech, Camp and Club staff have received one or two inquiries about boys participating in the Camp and/or Club, and in those instances Illinois Tech has provided information about other programs that Illinois Tech offered.

OCR said it “has concerns” that promotional materials “do not convey that the program is open to students regardless of sex,” featuring only photos of “female campers,” for example.

While the program links cited in Perry’s complaint have either been removed or modified, a 2017 version of an Illinois Tech page describes the girls-only camp, which at that point had served about 200 girls.

The camp goes back to 2010 and was initially funded by the National Science Foundation. The 2017 camp theme was “Dancing Queen,” with girls programming “LEGO Mindstorm robots to dance and be able to individualize their robots with e-textiles.”

By Perry’s count, his complaints have resulted in more than a dozen programs, awards and an infamous women-only lounge either shuttering, opening to males or being joined by male-only offerings.

He told The Fix there are about 70 open Title IX investigations by OCR, most of which he is “confident” will have similar outcomes as Illinois Tech’s. Another 70 are under evaluation for possible investigation.

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IMAGE: John T Takai/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.