Mark Perry has been called a skunk at a lawn party. His actions have fueled protests and even a college sit-in. Some of his critics consider him a politically-incorrect, misogynistic enfant terrible. But the business school professor at the University of Michigan-Flint makes no apologies for the unusual crusade he is waging in higher education.
Perry, a 67-year-old professor of economics, is at war against any educational program, club or initiative, including scholarship support, that is exclusive for women if there are no equivalent offerings for men. In the past four years, he has filed nearly 250 complaints alleging civil rights violations for organizations that support everything from coding camps for girls and scholarship awards for women to women’s only lounges on campus and faculty awards to encourage and support female professors.
His latest target: Business schools that offer programs for women. Since August, Perry says he has filed about 20 complaints with government agencies against a large number of business schools, from Harvard and Stanford to UC-Berkeley Haas and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
‘I AM FIGHTING FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE’
The Department of Education recently announced that it has open investigations into executive education programs at both Yale School of Management and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Perry argues that several SOM programs, including the school’s Women’s Leadership Program and its Women on Boards programs, are only available to women so they are, therefore, in violation of Title IX.
Most “sex-specific, single-sex, female-only” programs violate Title IX, he insists, unless a university offers equivalent male-only programs. Because Yale SOM excludes men and denies them from these programs and their benefits, grouses Perry, Yale is discriminating against men based on their sex. His leverage in his mission is that federal aid to universities can be jeopardized if a school is found to be In violation of Title IX rules.
“I am fighting for social justice,” insists Perry, “just not the kind of social justice that people think about when they use that term. There is a lot of female privilege and payback in higher education. They like the fact that they are given a disproportionate share of resources at universities.
‘I KEEP EXPECTING TO BE CANCELED’
“But the legal standard for Title IX is clear,” maintains Perry, who calls Women’s Studies programs Grievance Studies. “No person on the basis of sex can be discriminated against. It is illegal to only accommodate female executives or managers when you don’t accommodate men.”
Despite a few skirmishes here or there, Perry says he receives far more support for his crusade than he has received hate mail. “I keep expecting to be canceled somehow, but I am a little surprised I haven’t come under more attack,” he concedes. “Most of the email I get is favorable. Even if you are a radical feminist, how can you fight it? It’s not a legitimate position to take. They might say women are underrepresented in engineering, science and business so we need to discriminate now to make up for past gender imbalances. But they can’t get off the hook with that argument.” In truth, many of his would-be critics decline to get publicly involved in a dispute with someone perceived to be a misguided skunk.
After news broke that the Department of Education had opened up an investigation into Yale’s School of Management, Perry says he received immediate praise from a School of Management alum thanking him for “standing up to Yale and other schools.” “The fact that Yale receives hundreds of millions, if not billions, in research and other funding every year from the government and runs management leadership programs for women and none for men and accepts Blacks at a rate 10X higher than Asians and 4X higher than whites with similar qualifications is extremely troubling to me as both an alum and a father who would like to see his children attend the school,” according to the email. A spokesperson for Yale SOM declined to comment on Perry’s complaint.
‘A SKUNK AT A LAWN PARTY’
In class, his reviews are more highly mixed, with some students claiming he was the worst professor they had ever taken. One student, writing anonymously on Rate Your Professors, claimed that Perry is “in love with himself” and “lives in a fantasy world.” He “needs to get in touch with reality…has no sympathy for the common person’s struggle. Hard to do when you are a fat spoiled out-of-touch brat.” Added another critic: “Absolutely the worst. Doesn’t seem to create any of his own curriculum, which should be considered academic fraud at the graduate level. Lectures are deadly boring.” Still another: “So bad I actually considered changing majors. Canned curriculum straight from textbook publisher. Lectures were deadly boring and filled with his mindless self-promotion.”
On his perspective on women, however, Perry says he gets much encouragement. The professor says his second wife of five years supports his efforts. So do most of his colleagues. “I have quite a bit of support,” he says. “Faculty members are pretty cowardly and they are all afraid to take an unpopular stand. Many of them have been beaten down enough so that they follow along with all the diversity nonsense. I haven’t had any faculty members say that they disagree with what I’m doing. Instead, I hear from a lot of people with kids who are concerned about their sons. I hear from parents who are afraid for their sons because everything is so geared and focused toward girls who in the third grade begin to benefit from Girls Who Code programs. Boys don’t get the same educational opportunities.”
Perry had been teaching at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus for nearly a quarter of a century when he filed his first Title IX complaint four years ago against Michigan State University over a women-only study lounge that had been a fixture of the Student Center on campus for 91 years. The issue led to an all-day protest, a petition signed by more than 600 students and faculty and, says Perry a sit-in against making the lounge open to coeds. A former alumnus of the school, Judy Putnam, wrote an op-ed essay for the Lansing State Journal that Perry was like “a skunk at a lawn party” for his objections.
239 FORMAL COMPLAINTS HAVE LED TO MORE THAN 100 TITLE IX INVESTIGATIONS
“The entire wing of the big building was set aside for the women’s only lounge,” says Perry. “I knew it was wrong legally and morally to have a whole wing set aside only for women. I was pretty much responsible for bringing it to national attention so they knew the time was up for that kind of gender apartheid. They couldn’t just take the plaque off so they closed it down for remodeling and reconfigured it. The women went crazy, and I was the bad guy.”
In the fall of 2016, the school re-opened the remodeled lounge to all students. Perry declared victory. “That blew up and I was partly responsible for Michigan State coming into compliance. That lounge was physically symbolic of what goes on at every university,” believes Perry. “They have all of these programs, scholarships, clubs, camps, and initiatives that are for women only that are in complete violation of Title IX.”
The professor, who is also a scholar and blogger with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, says he then became aware of a Title IX issue on his own campus. There were 11 faculty awards that provided financial support and relief from teaching for scholarly research but Perry discovered he was only eligible for six of them. “As a white male, I could not apply for five of those awards,” he says. He filed his second Title IX complaint and the criteria for the other awards were changed. “Starting in 2017, all of those five awards were open to all faculty of any gender or race,” he adds proudly. “That was the second victory.”