Oklahoma Wesleyan University Joins Lawsuit Over 'Dear Colleague' Letter
BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma - Oklahoma Wesleyan University became the first college or university to go to court to challenge the Obama Administration over its so-called "Dear Colleague" sexual assault letter.
The suit is sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education or FIRE, a national organization that advocates for civil liberties on campus.
In 2011, the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights sent a letter to all colleges and universities covered by Title IX that began with "Dear Colleague." Critics say the letter amounts to an unlawful mandate that forces colleges to abandon due process protections and try sexual misconduct cases using the lowest standard of evidence.
A former University of Virginia School of Law student filed the lawsuit in June, which the university joined on Monday, August 16, 2016.
According to a news release from the University, the Dear Colleague Letter violates the Administrative Procedure Act because it was not offered for public notice and comment.
“OKWU will always defend our students’ constitutional rights,” said, Dr. Everett Piper, President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. “We also refuse to accept any government intrusion that would require OKWU to teach the antithesis of our Christian beliefs concerning sexual behavior. Finally, all of our students should have the legal right to avail themselves of local law enforcement without their petition being compromised by the intrusion of an OCR-mandated committee of amateurs that contravenes the due process and confidentiality of the legal process.”
“The Department of Education used Title IX as a pretext to suddenly and unilaterally change the law—imposing a one-size-fits-all mandate which essentially requires colleges to negate the constitutional rights of our students,” said Piper. “Oklahoma Wesleyan is committed to protecting our students and their legal rights and this mandate is an infringement upon those rights and on the privacy of mainly the young women with whom we have been entrusted. While we fully support Title IX as it was written and passed in 1972, the officials at the Department of Education unfortunately have taken it upon themselves to implement an unrelated social agenda using Title IX to coerce and intimidate schools through the threat of a loss of federal funding."
Dr. Piper made news last year in a blog post written after a student complained about a sermon.
Dr. Piper titled the post, "This is Not a Day Care. It's a University."