The Truth About College Sex Discrimination

Suppose for a moment that 56% of college students in the United States were male, that male college students outnumbered females by 2.2 million, and that male college enrollment increased by three percentage points more than female enrollment between 2000 and 2010.

Suppose too that a review of 346 large colleges and universities found that 68.5% had at least four more male specific scholarships than female specific ones, that 29% had at least 10 more scholarships for men and that there were at least 25 more male scholarships in almost 10% of those academic institutions. Add the further suppositions that not one of them had more female scholarships than male scholarships and that 43 of them had no female specific scholarships at all despite having male specific ones. And, for good measure, suppose than one of them had no less than 104 more scholarships for men than for women.

If the foregoing figures were correct we would hear them on every televisions news station. Members of Congress would call for investigations. Activists would warn of a “war on women” in alarmist language more appropriate to a threat of genocide. Those hypothetical statistics, however, merely invert the facts by ascribing to male colleges students all the advantages possessed by their female counterparts.

Such preferential treatment is generally at odds with federal anti-discrimination regulations, with two notable exceptions. One is: “fellowships, or other forms of financial assistance established pursuant to domestic or foreign wills, trusts, bequests, or similar legal instruments or by acts of a foreign government which requires that awards be made to members of a particular sex specified therein; Provided, That the overall effect [in the college as a whole] of the award of such sex-restricted scholarships, fellowships, and other forms of financial assistance does not discriminate on the basis of sex.”

The other is “affirmative action with respect to forms of financial assistance or programs to overcome the effects of conditions which resulted in limited participation in its education program or activity by persons of a particular sex,” though these cannot either “resort to sex-based quotas” or “rely on national statistics as evidence of limited participation” but “must instead clearly articulate why the particular sex-based scholarship or program was necessary to overcome the conditions in its own education program.”

Scholarships, however, are only one part of the problem. The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal has, for example, documented the pervasiveness of female only programs at colleges and universities in North Carolina, including at its public universities (the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University). These include Carolina Women in Business, Girls Engineering Change and Women in Technical Leadership. While federal regulations allow the existence of college and university sponsored organizations with such names, this is on condition not only that membership not be limited to members of one sex but “that communicate [this fact] effectively to their respective communities and the public.” Some of the programs identified by the Martin Center not only fail to communicate that men may belong but do in fact limit participation on the basis of sex (or of individual’s non-male professions of gender).

It should also be noted that colleges and universities are not merely refusing to comply with federal limitations on the types of activities (clubs, events, etc.) that can be restricted to members of a single sex on the condition that “opportunities for reasonably comparable activities must be provided for students of the other.” Instead types of activities that federal regulations prohibit from being limited to a single sex are being so limited while the other sex is not even provided with “reasonable comparable” activities.

The good news, however, is that formal challenges to such behavior are being mounted and often enough meeting with success. University of Michigan professor and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute Mark Perry has filed over 100 complaints for anti-male discrimination, with many notable victories. Similar success has been attained by the efforts of SAVE. No fewer than 233 colleges and universities are being investigated by the federal Office of Civil Rights for offering female only scholarships.

“Sexual inequality” is very real in higher education but not in the way claimed by a publicly ubiquitous  narrative of “underprivileged” females in need of “special protection.” The truth, rather, is that such “protections” often constitute so-called “reverse discrimination” against men—and the move against them is gaining momentum.
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