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One in four public research university presidents are hiding ‘true feelings’ on DeVos Title IX proposal

‘For fear of offending campus groups’

Wonder why you’ve heard so little support for the Department of Education’s proposed campus sexual-misconduct revamp from college leaders?

They may be too afraid to publicly agree with it.

The latest annual survey of college and university presidents by Inside Higher Ed and Gallup reveals some presidents are hiding their “true feelings” about the proposal by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos*, which would enshrine due process protections for accused students in binding regulations.

Notably, Inside Higher Ed didn’t bother noting its finding in its news report on the survey. You have to turn over your personal information to Inside Higher Ed and its financial sponsors in order to see the full report, which buries the finding in a table.

Even the report summary emphasizes that two-thirds disagree that they have hid their true feelings on the DeVos proposal.

Look at the breakout by type of institution, however, and you’ll notice presidents of certain types are more likely to admit they can’t say what’s on their mind “for fear of offending campus groups.”

Presidents of public doctoral (research) institutions are the most likely to say they’ve clammed up on what they really think. Nearly one in four, 23 percent, agree with the statement. The next highest is presidents of all public colleges (17 percent), public master’s/baccalaurate colleges and colleges of all types (both 16 percent).

The finding was highlighted by Brooklyn College Prof. KC Johnson, who chronicles Title IX litigation.

The Inside Higher Ed report on the survey at least acknowledges that many college presidents belatedly criticized the Obama administration’s guilt-first Title IX guidelines, which were never subjected to regulatory notice-and-comment procedures:

Skeptical as they are about the wisdom of the DeVos proposals, though, campus leaders say some action was needed to correct overzealousness on the part of the Obama administration on campus sexual assault. Half of all presidents — 42 percent of public university leaders and 60 percent of those at private colleges — agree or strongly agree that “the Obama administration’s approach did not place enough emphasis on due process for those accused of sexual assault or harassment.”

Johnson notes that practically “none said so publicly” about the Obama administration approach, “either at the time or since.”

Most are also spouting a talking point with no evidence behind it, that the DeVos proposal would result in fewer sexual-misconduct complaints. But just under half at private nonprofits agree with this, suggesting that their campuses are so smitten with “the campus rape frenzy” that nothing at the federal level will inhibit the hysteria that rape is common and tolerated on elite campuses.

The survey has other noteworthy findings. More presidents say “higher education is perceived as intolerant of conservative views” than last year, rising to 37 percent from 32 percent.

Private nonprofits are more likely to agree with this (40 percent) than public college presidents (33 percent) – again, likely because their campuses are less intellectually diverse and more in the grip of what economist Mark Perry calls “diversicrats.”

Read the article and download the 44-page survey.

*Disclosure

MORE: College presidents say race-neutral admission attacks higher ed

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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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