What Ails Males?

At least since 2000, the American Council on Education has reported, about 57% of college students have been women.

This “underrepresentation” of men may or may not be a problem, and if it is it may or may not be a big one, but even if it is and is a big one it may or may not be a civil rights problem (although all those who assume “underrepresentation” is always smoke caused by the ever-present fire of discrimination will no doubt think it is).

Now comes the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to the rescue, shining its sometimes bright light on the issue of “gender discrimination.” Last December it approved a list of 19 colleges and universities to investigate “for evidence of gender discrimination in undergraduate admissions.”

The commission aims to find out if the institutions — a mix of public, private, religious, secular, and historically black colleges and universities — are violating Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by giving admissions preferences to men as the number of female applicants rises.

Title IX, the federal gender-equity law, prohibits colleges and universities that receive federal funds from discriminating against applicants based on gender— with the major exception of undergraduate admissions at private colleges that are not professional or technical institutions. That exemption, for instance, allows women’s colleges to remain all female in their undergraduate student bodies.

The Commission said on Friday that if may seek help from the Department of Justice to pry information out of Virginia Union University, a historically black institution in Richmond that has not been forthcoming with data.

I’m not sure the “underrepresentation” of men in college is a problem, and insofar as it is I’m less sure that it’s a civil rights problem reflecting massive gender discrimination. I do think preferential treatment of men in admissions violates various civil rights laws, and thus is legitimately on the Civil Rights Commission’s plate, but it pales into insignificance (pardon what might a pun here) compared to the clear, present, and overwhelmingly prevalent practice of granting preferential treatment based on race or ethnicity.

I don’t mean to imply that the Commission has ignored that problem, but why divert effort and attention from it now? Title IX, properly interpreted and applied, no doubt does bar gender discrimination against men as well as women, and it would no doubt anger its usual advocates to use it to protect men, but man-bites-dog irony can take you only so far.

Lest we forget, Title VI is equally if not more explicit in barring federal funds to institutions that treat people differently based on race or ethnicity, stating in part:

No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

Lest this be unclear, the Department of Justice’s Title VI Legal Manual explains that discrimination occurs when “similarly situated persons are treated differently because of their race, color, or national origin.”

Does anyone doubt that this sort of discrimination is routine at colleges and universities that practice “affirmative action” in admissions? Why not enlist the Department of Justice to look at that?

Oh, wait. This is Obama’s and Eric Holder’s Department of Justice.

Say What? (1)

  1. acf May 18, 2010 at 1:26 pm | | Reply

Say What?