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Title IX Attorney Discusses OCR Complaint that Alleges Stanford Discriminates Against Males On the Basis of Sex 

Litigation By Binnall Law Group - 2023/05/11 at 10:34am

It should surprise no one that across America there are far more university programs for women than there are for men. What may surprise people, however, is that there are more women on campus than men and that each year more and more women go to college than men. This may cause some to wonder – is this continued unequal support for women rather than men equitable? 

 Addressing this issue, in 2019, Kursat Pekgoz and James Moore filed a complaint against Stanford University with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The complaint alleges Stanford violated Title IX of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against men on the basis of sex, specifically pointing to twenty-seven women-only programs on the elite University’s campus.  

 According to the Stanford Review, the women-only programs are intended to empower women, by providing “their members with opportunities for exclusive workshops, networking events, and job opportunities.”1 Considering that women now account for 51% of undergraduate students at Stanford as of 2021,2 the continued necessity of programs dedicated exclusively to the empowerment of women, premised on the perceived disadvantages of being a woman on campus, seems dubious. At the very least, what clearly is not fair nor equal, Pekgoz and Moore argue, is that for the 49% of Stanford’s campus that is not female,3 no equivalent exists.  

The blatant discrimination against men on Stanford’s campus was made obvious by a simple trifecta of facts: (1) the names of the organization imply the exclusion of men; (2) all members are women; and perhaps most damning, (3) Stanford offers no similar support programs for men. All-male organizations are few and far between at Stanford, with only one, the Black Men’s Forum––which excludes 93%4 of Stanford men.  

Three years after Pekgoz and Kursat filed their complaint, it finally caught the eye of the Department of Education’s OCR office. On November 30, 2022, Forbes5 reported that the Department of Education’s OCR launched an investigation into the allegations of sex bias against men at Stanford University.  

 Although twenty-seven programs on Stanford’s campus were named in the 2019 complaint, “the Forbes article describes how the OCR is investigating four organizations in particular: Stanford’s Women in Business, Women in Stanford Law, Stanford Women in Design, and Stanford Society of Women Engineers.”6  

Stanford’s women-only programs are merely the latest university-based initiatives in the hot seat for allegations of sex discrimination against men. Pekgoz has personally filed several Title IX complaints.7 For instance, at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Pekgoz filed a complaint against the University for sex bias, targeting the Marilyn C. Davis scholarship. The scholarship was only open for female STEM students, with no equivalent scholarship available for male STEM students. After an investigation was conducted, the Marilyn C. Davis scholarship became open to both male and female STEM students, a victory for Pekgoz.  

At the University of Michigan’s Flint campus, Professor Mark Perry “has filed over 600 complaints against universities for gender discrimination against men.”8 Most notable is Perry’s latest target––universities distributing the Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) scholarship. The CBL scholarship is intended to support female undergraduate and graduate students as well as professors within the STEM field. With twenty federal civil rights complaints against universities distributing CBL grants to students having been filed, ten of them have been opened for investigation by OCR. 

 Bias against men in universities increased when the U.S. Department of Education released its “guidance” for on-campus sexual misconduct cases in 2011. Our firm represents students, professors, and staff accused of Title IX misconduct and have seen first-hand the injustice and discrimination against men in both higher and K-12 education settings.  

 In cases where schools have acted with an obvious bias toward our client, thus violating federal regulations and law, we have sought justice by, among other things, filing OCR complaints with the U.S. Department of Education. Should a federally funded academic institution have OCR open an investigation into the allegations, the consequences could be severe for that institution, including being stripped of its federal funding. Title IX protects all students, male and female. Should you know any universities discriminating on the basis of sex, please contact us to discuss any potential claims.