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Newsletter > January 2019 > "Male Assailants Claim Victimization Against Their Universities"
Male Assailants Claim Victimization Against Their Universities
Ilana Linder, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the number of lawsuits filed by male students against
their universities in which a claim of gender bias in the school’s handling of sexual assault allegations has
been asserted. These suits are typically filed after the male students were found responsible for sexually
assaulting females on campus. More specifically, the accused men posit that their universities not only failed to properly investigate their own allegations of sexual assault committed by females (e.g. the males are also victims of sexual assault), but also that the schools were under pressure to aggressively prosecute sexual assaults due to ongoing federal investigations of Title IX non-compliance.
For example, in 2016, after a former resident assistant at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) was accused of sexual misconduct by another (female) student, the University decided to suspend the student and evict him from his student housing. While suspended, the male student informed the University that a (female) student had assaulted him. No investigation into the male student’s allegations was conducted by the University. A hearing panel ultimately found the student responsible for sexual misconduct, and he was therefore expelled and banned from the University.
When IUPUI denied the student’s appeal of the expulsion and ban, the student brought suit against the University and several administrators, asserting several claims. Although the court granted IUPUI’s motion to dismiss all of the students’ procedural due process claims, it did find that the student’s Title IX claim against the University was sufficient to survive dismissal. Here, the student maintained that the University engaged in selective, gender-based enforcement of Title IX against him when it failed to properly investigate the misconduct claims he raised about another student. The student pointed to the fact that Indiana University was under ongoing federal investigation for how it handled sexual violence cases at the time that he was being investigated.
A nearly identical claim was made by a different male student in a recent complaint filed against Michigan
State University (MSU). In this case, the student was also found responsible for sexually assaulting a female student and was subsequently suspended by MSU. Unlike the IUPUI student, however, this male student did not formally report to MSU administrators that he had been the victim of unwanted sexual assault. Yet this second Complaint includes references to the fact that his accuser never obtained his consent before she performed sexual acts on him. In other words, the Complaint notes that MSU was not concerned enough with his potential victimization to conduct an investigation, yet the University actively investigated him as an alleged assailant.
Additionally, and more importantly, the MSU student’s complaint repeatedly asserts the notion that MSU
was under “extraordinarily intense pressure to convict men accused by female students of sexual assault”
due to threats from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to withhold federal
funding on account of MSU’s failure to “vigorously prosecute, convict, and punish alleged sexual
assailants.” MSU’s position as the subject of significant media attention concerning the sexual assaults
committed by Dr. Larry Nassar, a former MSU employee, also contributed to MSU’s heightened desire to
aggressively prosecute female students’ claims, the Complaint states.
Several schools have been the subject of recent investigation for alleged gender discrimination against males when they have offered scholarships for women, women’s studies programs, or women’s empowerment programs/organizations. Therefore, in light of these various legal challenges, coupled with other colleges’ efforts to eliminate single-sex organizations such as those at Harvard, universities must be more conscious of how their actions and responses to situations may be interpreted or understood by different members of the community.
 Marshall v. Indiana University, 170 F. Supp. 3d 1201 (S.D. Ind. 2016).
 Complaint at 2, Doe v. Mich. State Univ., No. 18-cv-1413 (W.D. Mich. Dec. 20, 2018).
 See Maria Danilova, Education Department Investigates Claims Against Women’s Programs, BDN Nation (Nov.
18, 2018), https://bangordailynews.com/2018/11/18/news/nation/education-department-investigates-claimsagainst-