Earlier this year, the Harvard Law School professors Jacob Gersen and Jeannie Suk coined the term “bureaucratic sex creep” to describe the steady expansion of official regulation surrounding sexual conduct and discussion, especially on college campuses. New bureaucracies are constructed to enforce rules against sexual misconduct, but by making a growing range of ordinary conduct accountable to regulators, they end up eroding protected personal liberties as well.
An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (un-self-consciously entitled “Resident Assistants Find Themselves on the Front Lines of Title IX Enforcement”) provides a perfect example of the phenomenon Gersen and Suk described. Not content with enlarging their ranks of diversity bureaucrats and Title IX officers, colleges are enlisting student resident assistants (typically, senior students who live in lower-class dorms) as “mandatory reporters” of possible Title IX violations, including “harassing remarks” they might hear.
“At the forefront of a university’s compliance is typically the Title IX coordinator,” the Chronicle reports earnestly. “But coordinators can’t monitor an entire campus on their own, so they often rely on mandatory reporters to bring possible offenses to their attention.”
The resident assistants are instructed to not be selective about what information they report to the authorities. They are to pass along to superiors anything they see or hear that could potentially run afoul of the growing web of sexual harassment rules and regulations: “RAs should be ‘funnels of information’,” a Title IX bureaucrat told the Chronicle. “Don’t try to sift and sort. Is this Title IX? Is this not Title IX?’ Let the Title IX administrator do that.”
As Gersen and Suk note, colleges are defining “Title IX violation,” increasingly broadly so that it sometimes includes consensual sexual contact or protected speech and discussion. And RA’s are now required to report student sexual remarks and behavior even if they don’t have a strong reason to believe it constitutes a violation. As a result, campus administrators will increasingly be privy to information about which underclassmen are sleeping with one another and which students made salacious remarks in their dorm rooms.
And so the sex bureaucracy continues to expand in American academia. It’s possible that the new embedded dorm-room “eyes and ears” will lead to more students being punished for genuine misconduct. But at what cost? Stalin’s police state helped him apprehend criminals more easily than America’s liberal system, too. This is not good training for life in a free society.