A federal Title IX investigation of Dana Altman’s basketball player rape allegations would have helped UO enrollment

That’s the surprising implication of an event study by former UO economics professor Jason Lindo (now at Texas A&M), et al:

Since 2011, when the landmark “Dear Colleague” letter declared that the Department of Education (DoE) would use equal-access requirements of federal law to remediate sexual assault on college campuses, 458 investigations have been opened. This letter was withdrawn in 2017 and it remains uncertain how the DoE will handle the issue in the future. We examine the effects of the investigations arising from the 2011 policy change on university outcomes. We find that applications and enrollment increase in response to Title IX investigations, for both males and females. We find little evidence of effects on degree completion or donations.

The estimated application increases are large:

Specifically, our estimates indicate that female FYFT enrollment is increased by 3.6 percent one year after enrollment could plausibly be affected (significant at the ten percent level) and 4.7 percent two years after enrollment could plausibly be affected (significant at the five percent level).

… In Table 3, we present the results of our analysis of the effects on undergraduate male enrollment. These results indicate that male enrollment is also increased by OCR Title IX investigations, again driven by FTFY students. Moreover, they suggest that the effects are larger and more immediate for males than females. Specifically, our estimates indicate that male FYFT enrollment is increased by 4.2 percent in the first-year enrollment could plausibly be affected, 5.6 percent the following year, and 7.4 percent the following year. All of these estimates are significant at the five percent level.

Why? Read the paper for some speculation.


We find no evidence that federal Title IX investigations negatively affect students’ interest in a school. Indeed, we find that they increase applications for admission from both males and females. Moreover, they increase freshman enrollment for both males and females, though this increase is immediate for males and only shows up one to two years later for females. This pattern of results is consistent with the idea that salience effects generated by Title IX investigations dominate the effects of the negative publicity associated with the investigations. An important implication of our results is that federal investigations and campus reviews of how sexual assault allegations are handled do not affect university applications and enrollments. We can neither offer assessment of the procedural improvements these reviews might elicit, nor any recourse they provide to petitioners. However, our findings should reassure college administrators that efforts to improve processes for reviewing accusations of sexual assault and providing remedy to victims does not come at the expense of broader university goals.

Despite the best efforts of Mike Gottfredson and Rob Mullens, the Altman allegations became public in April 2014, and despite the best efforts of UO faculty such as Jennifer Freyd and Carol Stabile, the Department of Education never investigated them. UO’s Freshman enrollment numbers:

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11 Responses to A federal Title IX investigation of Dana Altman’s basketball player rape allegations would have helped UO enrollment

  1. A duck says:

    There’s no such thing as bad publicity?

  2. old timer says:

    so, these economists have given UO a solution to its budget shortfall. if we believe the validity of this study, the UO should initiate a title 9 investigation, promote a social media campaign to stimulate google searches and then enjoy the jump in tuition revenue, as well as any unintended? improvements in title 9 practices on campus.

    • trumplackey says:

      That’s certainly the most unexpected rationale for publicizing Title IX investigations that I ever expect to see. Not sure how the Twitter mob would take it. I, however, stand ready to take a bike lock to the head for Prof. UOM. And it does warm my misanthropic heart.

      Far more interesting, though, is the implication that economists can get a paper for data significant at 0.10. My dog won’t even check his bowl for treats at less than 0.05. I sure picked the wrong discipline…

  3. Old timer says:

    Note that the paper is only a working paper, not actually published, if that offers any consolation.

  4. Hippo says:

    Ah yes, regression models at work once again. We should all buy more TV sets to decrease our infant mortality rate.

  5. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Hmmm, I don’t know about Title IX, but looking at that graph of freshman enrollment, I would be uneasy if I were, say, Mike Schill or head of “enrollment management.” They are really planning to increase enrollment by 3000 to balance the budget? I wish them the best. With the “demographic crunch” that is coming?
    Perhaps fewer students from China and the Middle East? Will they keep up current admissions standards? I have heard grousing about recent classes as it is. (Of course, that may be par for the course). Again, good luck!

  6. oldtimer says:

    agree with HUB, an extended conversation with one PRC honors student at thecUO, revealed to me our appeal. relative to more prominent West Coast schools, we are in a smaller city, easier to get into, not that difficult in many majors, and in his words, good enough. The last time we dipped into this pool, UO did little or no planning for the consequences.

  7. uomatters says:

    Rob Mullens and the Duck coaches really need UO to need to increase enrollment. This lets them justify the subsidies they get from the academic budget, since they provide the most likely avenue for a Title IX violation that will excite thousands of new applicants looking for a party school. Not that I’m an economist.

    • thisain'tnopartythisain'tnodisco says:

      But but but — isn’t athletics self-supporting and even provides $ to the academic side? Isn’t that the party line?

  8. Hippo says:

    Hey it’s been too hot here! Can you people eat less ice cream so we can cool it down a bit?

  9. trumplackey says:

    The marketing puzzle seems difficult. From a distance, it’d be easy to associate UO with all that Evergreen entails. And as a prospect, both on the website and walking around campus, it’d be clear that intersectional demographics is very important here, which in my case would make me merely tolerated, at best. Why attend here when there are other schools (also with solid academics) that would fight over me?

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