A group of feminists at the University of Mary Washington is suing the college for failing “to protect them from a sexually hostile school environment” stemming from the social media app Yik Yak.
The lawsuit, funded by the Feminist Majority Foundation for the group Feminists United, alleges the university and its former president, Richard Hurley, violated Title IX (which relates to offensive online posts) as well as the 14th amendment when they failed to take sufficient action to prevent offensive speech by male students at the university.
Hurley retired in June 2016 and left the president of the feminist group with an open letter in the school newspaper, sounding off on a “recklessly publicized” smear campaign she lodged to discredit the university while spreading unsubstantiated accusations.
Most of the “sexually hostile” speech occurred on the social media app Yik Yak, where users post anonymous messages or “yaks” to other Yik Yak users within their geographical area.
The lawsuit alleges the majority of the posts are “overtly sexist and/or threatening,” and Feminists United asserts that by not shutting down Yik Yak on the University of Mary Washington’s Wi-Fi, the school fostered a sexually hostile environment and failed to protect the students from the offensive yaks. The lawsuit also alleges the university exhibited “deliberate indifference,” which is potentially actionable under Title IX, to the “sexually hostile environment” created by the social media app.
There is no mention, however, of how the Yik Yak app opened on their media devices or how they were forced to read the “sexually hostile” yaks. It also doesn’t state how frequently their media devices forced sexual hostility upon them. Were they forced to read it together as a group? Were the yaks forced upon them individually? Are they also suing their cell phones? Computers? Will the feminists require counseling?
Will there ever be a man or woman at any one of these unhinged universities running amuck with stupidity who will put their foot down and say “ENOUGH OF THIS LEFTIST BULLSHIT!”?
The university and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a nonprofit campus civil liberties group, dispute the group’s claims on the grounds of “sufficiency of evidence.” According to a FIRE representative, none of the yaks cited in the suit constitutes a threat under Title IX provisions. Most of the yaks incorporated derogatory remarks and invitations for students to engage in a debate with the Feminists United group.
FIRE also noted in the 2003 Supreme Court case Virginia v. Black, it was found that “true threats” encompass those statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.
This isn’t the first clash between the university and this feminist group. They’re also suing the university over a “misogynistic chant” by eight members of the school’s rugby team recorded at an off-campus party not affiliated with the rugby team in November 2014.
At the time, more than 40 members of the team were playing a game in Maryland. The recording was brought to the administration’s attention in December of 2014. In March, the university disbanded the team and required all players to attend sexual assault training.
Feminists United claims in its lawsuit, “No immediate action was taken by the university.”
In response to the lawsuit, the University of Mary Washington has hired a Title IX investigator and requires Title IX/sexual violence training for all faculty, staff, and students, according to the school.
(Yik Yak announced in April it is shutting down the app due to management miscues, fickle users and school bans, according to USA Today.)