The Title IX Contract Quagmire

Bryce Freeman*

Courts and scholars have long grappled with whether and to what extent educational institutions are in contract with their students. If they are, then students can sue their private universities for breaching that contract— ordinarily understood as the student handbook and other materials—when the institution levies a disciplinary action against the student. But what promises, both implicit and explicit, do private universities make to their students that courts should enforce? This question has resurfaced in the Title IX context, where courts have largely drawn clear dividing lines between the rights of public and private university students. This Comment provides a framework to understand courts’ approaches to contract law and higher education as well as implications for Title IX.

*J.D. Candidate, May 2020, University of Michigan Law School. Immense thanks to Professor Veronica Santarosa and Amanda Dallo for their guidance. Thanks also to Michael Abrams, the Notes Office, and the entire Michigan Law Review for their support.

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