Unwanted Candor

A scholar is sued for reporting the facts in a Title IX harassment case.

Amid a national debate about due process and fairness in campus Title IX adjudications, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently observed, “there’s been criticism of some college codes of conduct for not giving the accused person a fair opportunity to be heard, and that’s one of the basic tenets of our system, as you know: everyone deserves a fair hearing.” Few academics have more powerfully made these criticisms than Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis, whose 2015 Chronicle of Higher Education essay lambasting Title IX’s application to campus sexual-assault and harassment allegations prompted a university Title IX investigation—against Kipnis herself. Though Kipnis was exonerated, the investigation was a form of punishment, since professors normally aren’t questioned by lawyers hired by their school as the result of publishing in their area of expertise. The experience prompted Kipnis to write Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus, which explores how Title IX has come to threaten the rights not only of accused students but also of faculty.

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