February 21, 2018 – Bartlesville, OK
Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU) has agreed to a dismissal of its federal lawsuit against the Office for Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Education. The dismissal came after the government validated the university’s legal position and withdrew the unlawful Title IX mandate on campus sexual assault that was the subject of the lawsuit. The order of dismissal was filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“When Oklahoma Wesleyan sued the Department of Education in 2016, we alleged that the Obama DOE had unlawfully issued Title IX guidance in 2011 and had unilaterally imposed unfair and impermissible conditions on all colleges and universities,” said Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan. “The mandate violated the privacy rights of our female students, denied due process for all students, and undercut the role of local law enforcement to investigate and adjudicate sexual misconduct.”
While many institutions objected to the mandate and are now defending lawsuits for trying to implement previous regulations, OKWU was the only university in the country to challenge the government’s imposition in the courts.
Piper said the dismissal was a significant victory for the university and the rule of law. “When the government withdrew the 2011 guidance last year and proposed new rules that complied with administrative legal requirements, it confirmed that we had been right all along,” he said.
The Department of Education, in withdrawing the previous guidance, said the 2011 rules “led to the deprivation of rights for many students—both accused students denied fair process and victims denied an adequate resolution of their complaints. Instead, schools faced a confusing and counterproductive set of regulatory mandates, and the objective of regulatory compliance has displaced Title IX’s goal of educational equity.”
The University partnered in the lawsuit with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the nation’s leading advocate for civil liberties on campus. FIRE’s executive director, Robert Shibley, praised OKWU for standing up for campus due process and fairness and said the opportunity for all parties to comment on the proposed rules will result in a much fairer system for effectively addressing issues of campus sexual assault.
The case is Doe v. Jackson et al. (originally Doe v. Lhamon et al.), 1:16-cv-01158-RC, and was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on June 16, 2016.