Gender and the Law Prof Blog

Editor: Tracy A. Thomas
University of Akron School of Law

Monday, November 13, 2017

Feminist Student Organization Loses Challenge against University for Cyberbulling on Yik Yak

The decision in Feminist Majority Foundation v. University of Mary Washington, 2017 Wl 4158787 (E.D. Va. Sept. 19, 2017)

This case arises from the cyberbullying of a student-run feminist organization at the University of Mary Washington (“UMW”). The cyberbullying occurred primarily through a social media smartphone application called Yik Yak. Yik Yak allowed users to anonymously share messages—called “yaks”—with other users within a certain radius (e.g., with users at or around UMW). Other users could then anonymously comment on yaks or could vote up or down on the yaks. During the 2014–2015 school year, users on Yik Yak harassed the plaintiffs by posting insulting, derogatory, and threatening yaks. The plaintiffs complained to UMW about the harassment, and eventually filed a complaint against UMW under Title IX.
 
The plaintiffs have now sued UMW, along with its current and former presidents, for violations of Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause. The defendants have moved to dismiss. Because UMW has limited, if any, control over Yik Yak, the plaintiffs' Title IX discrimination claim fails. Their Title IX retaliation claim fails because UMW took no retaliatory action against the plaintiffs. Finally, because no constitutional violation occurred, let alone a clearly establish or continuing violation, the plaintiffs have not stated claims under the Equal Protection Clause. Accordingly, the Court will grant the defendants' motion to dismiss

Commentary at Court Rejects Feminist Majority Foundation's Demand that Public University Block Access to Yik Yak

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/gender_law/2017/11/feminist-student-organization-loses-challenge-against-university-for-cyberbulling-on-yik-yak.html

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