A couple of fraternity brothers at Wichita State University did something college men often do -- they slightly changed their behavior in order to slightly increase the odds they'd meet some college girls.
The men in this case hung a banner advertising free house tours for new members in the direction of where sorority recruitment was going on. Now they are under fire for sexual harassment.
A school administrator further argued the timing of their dastardly deed exacerbated its impact, claiming sensitivity on matters related to sexual assault was heightened across campus because of Education Secretary Betsy's DeVos speech last week.
On Friday, two brothers belonging to Wichita State's Phi Delta Theta chapter hung a homemade banner that said "New Members Free House Tours!" from the side of their building that faced sorority recruitment. The banner was reported to the university's division of student affairs, which called it "sexual harassment" in a tweet that said: "WSU does not condone sexual harassment in any form. The inappropriate banner at Phi Delt was addressed & sent on for further investigation."
The chapter immediately suspended two students responsible for hanging the banner and the school has opened up an investigation into whether their actions constitute a Title IX violation.
In a statement to The College Fix, Vice President for Student Affairs Terri Hall explained, "The reason that it was ‘inappropriate' was because it was hung on the side of the house facing sorority recruitment, implying that women participating in recruitment should come to their house."
"It was an issue of timing and context," Hall said.
But the student newspaper also quoted Hall implying the students' actions were made worse because they occurred on the day after Secretary DeVos announced the Education Department was in the process of seeking a better approach to campus investigations of sexual misconduct. From The Sunflower:
Hall said while the banner was "absolutely inappropriate," the timing escalated the incident, both with recruitment beginning and with the apparent rollback of Title IX by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
"I think we're all a little more sensitive because of the statements Betsy DeVos made (Thursday)," Hall said.
The Foundation for Individual for Rights in Education sent the university a letter on Tuesday informing administrators their "belief that the banner amounts to actionable sexual harassment is unsupported by fact or law," quoting the school's own definition of sexual harassment to prove the banner doesn't even meet that standard.
"Such a fleeting occurrence, combined with the fact that the banner's relation to sex was tenuous at best, simply cannot reasonably be said to have impacted any student's ability to fully participate in campus life," FIRE director Ari Cohn wrote in the letter.
This case is patently absurd. That it prompted actual suspensions and a Title IX investigation is even worse. There is a reason DeVos is seeking to improve upon the way schools approach Title IX enforcement, and the ridiculous behavior of school administrators in this case pretty much explains it.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.