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The Power of the Press: New Study Reveals that Federal Action Against Universities for Responses to Misconduct May Help Enrollment

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Aug 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

The enforcement of Title IX in the sector of higher education is an innocuous effort to deter the epidemic-like rates of sexual misconduct on college campuses. But it hasn't been employed without what seems like perpetual controversy and a whole lot of political, legal, and anatomical contention. Bearing the brunt of the consequences induced by the Title IX crossfire are the college students. As more issues are exposed in the process of adjudication within institutions, too many students - whether they be complainants or respondents - have become testaments of what happens when institutions, administrators, Title IX coordinators, and even the federal government can't get it right.

The repercussions of this flawed process spared higher education institutions until the inception of the “Dear Colleague” letter in 2011. Issued by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the letter informed more than 7,000 colleges receiving federal funding of several new mandates, including the adoption of the preponderance of evidence in cases, the ability of complainants to appeal not guilty findings, and a 60-day deadline for case resolution. It subtly warned that the failure to implement these new processes could result in an investigation of the college, which could, in turn, lead to the loss of federal funding.

Between April 2014 and June 2017, the OCR promised to maintain a publicized list of institutions that were under investigation for violating Title IX requirements and mishandling sexual misconduct incidents. By the end of the Obama administration era, the number of schools on the list had so much as quadrupled since it was first introduced. Ultimately, the new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, under the Trump administration scrapped the list, referring to it as a “list of shame.” This effort, however, didn't dissuade the amount of media attention the schools on the list were getting. They made national headlines, sparking serious concerns among administrators about how the list would affect their reputation and enrollment rates.

Despite all the bad press, the schools on the list received, a recent study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research concludes an unanticipated outcome: these specific schools experienced an increase and applications and enrollment from both male and female students. But why?

Researchers speculate that this phenomenon is plausibly credited to the “salience” mechanism, which strongly influences human actions. It suggests that the more a school's name is publicized, regardless of the reason, it will be easily retrieved in the minds of student media consumers. This effect essentially places these schools at the top of the list in their minds, while dominating any negative information associated with these schools.

Although the “Dear Colleague” letter didn't have the desired effect on schools that was intended, for the sake of the students, one hopes that the priorities of these institutions can now shift from self-serving incentives to an effort to improve processes for students.

Nationwide Title IX Advisor

The only way to make sure your voice is heard and your rights are upheld is to retain a student defense attorney. National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento has the skill, experience, and expertise to help you preserve your entitled rights under Title IX and your school's policy. For a case evaluation or more information about his representation, contact him online or give him a call at 888-535-3686 today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience passionately fighting for the futures of his clients. Mr. Lento represents students and others in disciplinary cases and other proceedings at universities and colleges across the United States while concurrently fighting in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, and New Jersey. Mr. Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand universities and colleges across the United States. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide.

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