Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Fall 12-11-2015

Major Department or Program

Rhetoric Studies


Heather Hayes


In this senior thesis, I analyze the legalistic framework of Whitman College’s Title IX grievance policy from 2011-2016 and its effect on the public understanding of Title IX. Examining the Office for Civil Rights’ push for collegiate adjudication of sexual assault as a direct result of the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), I find that the DCL shifts the focus of Title IX from equal representation to student safety. I argue that this shift led to a series of campus policies that speak in legalese, but have none of the authority of the law. For me, the exigency of college Title IX grievance policies stems from a failure of the legal system to provide justice for victims of sexual assault. Yet, I found that Title IX does not resolve that exigency or provide justice. Employing a feminist deconstructive strategy, I argue that the legalistic framework in collegiate adjudications (which are not legal proceedings) portray themselves as a fair system that putatively delivers justice. I also argue that meeting the standards of the judicial system can never develop into justice. I utilize a feminist interpretation of Jacques Derrida’s theory of deconstruction to demonstrate how required collegiate adjudication of sexual assault functionally decriminalizes rape instead of offering a just means of redress.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Sex discrimination in education -- Law and legislation -- United States, Campus violence -- United States, College students -- Civil rights -- United States, Rape Law and legislation, Whitman College 2016 -- Dissertation collection -- Rhetoric Studies

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Document Type

Public Accessible Thesis

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Included in

Rhetoric Commons



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