Patterns? What patterns?

Inside Higher Ed reports:

The Department of Education last week outlined changes to civil rights investigations that advocates fear will mean less consistent findings of systemic discrimination at colleges.

Under the Obama administration, certain types of civil rights complaints would trigger broader investigations of whether a pattern of discrimination existed at a school or college.

But Candice Jackson, the acting assistant secretary for civil rights, told regional directors for the Office for Civil Rights in a memo that the Department of Education would no longer follow those guidelines. In detailing the latest civil rights shift under Secretary Betsy DeVos, Jackson wrote that the department was setting aside existing rules and empowering investigators with more discretion to clear case backlogs and address complaints in a timely manner.

Ah yes. Treating everything as a one off does indeed speed things up. Consider Grenfell Tower for instance. If there’s no need to see it as part of a pattern of saving money by not getting the fire retardant building material, then it becomes just a matter of tidying up and moving on.

The shift is significant because many of the violations OCR has found in recent years have involved systemic issues that go beyond the original complaint that prompted investigators to look into a college or school.

Former department officials and advocates for victims of discrimination say it’s critical to examine individual cases in the context of wider practices at an institution — and to apply that standard consistently across various OCR offices.

That’s critical unless you’re a libertarian. If you’re a libertarian, there’s no such thing as a “wider practice.” All is random and uncaused, a matter of free people freely choosing, and there’s no need to look for patterns and explanations.

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