The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights today approved a list of 19 colleges and universities that it will examine 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 chose the colleges and universities that it will subpoena because of their proximity to Washington, not because their admissions practices have raised red flags. They represent a diverse group of institutions, and are within 100 miles of Washington. (The commission has subpoena power only within 100 miles of where it holds its meetings.)
The one exception is the University of Richmond, which was specifically put on the list because of reports in the news media several years ago that it was intentionally admitting a disproportionately high number of male applicants.
The civil-rights commission does not have the authority to penalize institutions, but it can draw public attention to practices in a way that could prompt action in Congress or the courts.
Besides Richmond, the institutions to be subpoenaed are Georgetown, Howard, Johns Hopkins, Lincoln (Pa.), Shepherd, and Virginia Union Universities; Gettysburg, Goldey-Beacom, Goucher, Messiah, and Washington Colleges; the Catholic University of America; Loyola University Maryland; Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania; York College of Pennsylvania; the University of Delaware; and the Baltimore County and Eastern Shore campuses of the University of Maryland.
A representative of one of the subpoenaed colleges could not immediately be reached for comment.