Kurz et al. v. Trustees of Indiana University et al.
UPDATE September 2016: The Kurz case was successfully settled in fall 2016.
Although much of the discussion about harassment on campus has focused on peer harassment and assault — students harassing students or faculty harassing faculty — Title IX also protects students from sexual harassment at the hands of faculty and staff. Kurz et al. v. Trustees of Indiana University et al. brings attention not only to the sexual harassment of students by university staff, but also to the serious retaliation those students may face if they speak out. AAUW is proud to support the case through our Legal Advocacy Fund.
The Story behind Kurz
Indiana University East (IUE) has a national championship-qualifying volleyball team. Several former members of the team filed suit against the school under Title IX, alleging that IUE hired a volleyball coach who the players say sexually harassed them. The players claim that IUE hired the coach despite knowing that he had a history of sexually harassing female athletes. The players also allege that they notified the school of the coach’s behavior and IUE refused to protect them. Further, the players claim that when the coach learned about the players’ complaint to IUE, he dismissed several of them from the team. The dismissed athletes not only lost the opportunity to play, they also lost their school scholarships, jeopardizing their educational futures.
At the time of the harassment, the players say that IUE did not have a Title IX coordinator as required by law. Even after they complained about the coach’s behavior, the players claim that IUE did not tell them about their rights under Title IX. Although the players went to several different school administrators for help, they claim that IUE failed to intervene to stop either the harassment or the retaliation that followed when the coach learned about the complaints.
AAUW’s Legal Advocacy Fund began supporting Kurz v. IUE in 2015.
Why Kurz Matters
More than 40 years after Title IX was passed, sexual harassment is still a serious problem on college campuses and in college athletics. Kurz brings to light the unique retaliation risks students face when they are forced to endure sexual harassment at the hands of staff or faculty. Faculty and staff often have significant control over students’ academic and athletic futures, and that imbalance of power makes Title IX’s protections all the more important. Students must be supported when they report harassment, and schools must hold harassers accountable.
AAUW Members and Supporters Make It Possible
The AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund has been crucial to the success of many gender discrimination cases since 1982. The case support program provides financial and organizational backing for plaintiffs who challenge gender discrimination in education and the workplace. The funds come directly from the generous contributions of AAUW members.