With over 7,000 members, the Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA) has positioned itself as a powerful intermediary between the federal government and educational institutions. Its self-advertisement suggests unbiased public service. The reality is a money making machine that “filters” federal regulations to serve an extremist and partisan agenda. A recent ATIXA “Time With Title IX” presentation provided an overview of what that agenda is.
ATIXA’s first priority is a “Title IX Restoration Act” with three professed goals: 1) “Bring stability and balance to Title IX and help to insulate it from volatile changes that have created over a decade of instability.” 2) “Help to stem the tide of litigation against colleges and schools.” 3) “Establish fair standards for compliance, enforcement, and causes of action.” Those disarmingly expressed points hide key facts: 1) Obama administration executive policies upended decades of stability and consensus. They did this through anti-male bias and eliminating due process for students accused of sexual misconduct. 2) The “tide of litigation” is a consequence of those policies. 3) Imprecise terms like “fair” are often used by those seeking to evade due process. Restoring “historical Title IX” through legislative prohibition of Obama policies would be a positive step. But that’s not what ATIXA has in mind.
For years ATIXA dismissed due process concerns until the Trump administration forced it to a limited compromise. Then Trump reversed Obama’s regulations and partially restored due process. ATIXA president Brett Sokolow recommended undermining the change through legal challenges and “clever work-arounds”. After the 2020 presidential election he went further—advising non-compliance with federal regulations emphasizing that the remainder of Trump’s term was too short for disciplinary procedures.
Two other points provide further insight into Sokolow’s agenda. First is his argument that “failure to provide cross-examination [in Title IX proceedings] isn’t gender based” and so unenforceable by courts. In fact refusal to allow cross examination is strongly influenced by anti-male bias. Second is his reference to Trump’s Executive Order 13950 as “a turd” in an official ATIXA statement. That executive order was actually an attempt to prevent impositions of extremist views and discrimination against those who don't share them.
The details are telling. Executive Order 13950 concerned federal agencies, the military, government contractors and federal grant recipients. It forbade them requiring employees to accept or to act upon certain beliefs and from using government funds to propagate the same beliefs. These included belief that: 1) “An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.” 2) “Objective, rational linear thinking” is an aspect of particular cultures rather than universally human. 3) “Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist.” The executive order also mandated that “The Attorney General should continue to assess the extent to which workplace training that teaches the divisive concepts set forth in section 2(a) of this order may contribute to a hostile work environment and give rise to potential liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
Now ATIXA is cooperating with Biden (the architect of Obama’s Title IX policies) as actively as it worked against Trump. The most significant example mentioned by the recent “Time With Title IX” was a meeting between ATIXA representatives and Suzanne Goldberg, the head of the Office for Civil Rights. ATIXA called this “The first step of many to begin building a great working relationship.” Goldberg favors using Title IX to create “standards” of “misbehavior” (such as so-called “affirmative consent”) so broad as to be almost impossible to observe. She also supports creating a facade of justice by eliminating biased interpretations of evidence when investigating such “offenses.” This might be what ATIXA means by “clear standards” that will “help stem the tide of litigation.”
Policy makers should be aware that ATIXA’s policy proposals are guided by a particular agenda—not consensus within a particular professional field. Claims that such proposals are supported by “many professionals” reflect the support of ATIXA’s biased members and allies. Any apparent compromises by ATIXA should be closely monitored for vague phrases. It is also necessary to check how terms found in ATIXA policy proposals are used in its literature, educational events, etc. ATIXA will likely be trying to combine an extremist orientation with a few sops to common sense and an appearance of moderation.