I'm a professor at a local university. I'm passionate about teaching, and am proud to teach 100-level science and mathematics courses to young and aspiring students.
Some senior engineering students created a sort of dating service/app, "How I Met My Future Wife" (not the actual name, but close enough). It advertises itself as a way for smart young guys to meet "potential marriage material", by helping them social with "young, cultured, educated women". It works by aggregating diversity data my university publishes. This data is intended to help make a case for having more women and minorities in STEM courses so that post-university, we have more diverse representation in the worlds of science, business, and engineering. These senior engineering students used it to create a database of courses that are statistically likely to have a large proportion of young women from certain cultural backgrounds.
The stated goal of the app is to produce a list of courses that would be easy for engineering majors to excel in effortlessly, where the majority of the class is young women that would not necessarily find the class easy. It basically puts engineering majors in a position to ingratiate themselves with a large pool of potential "mates", and even guides users through getting reduced tuition or even taking the course for free (i.e. "auditing" a course; take it for free, but it doesn't affect your GPA, so as to prevent students from gaming the system and boosting their GPAs with easy courses).
A number of 100-level science courses are having record levels of senior-level STEM students auditing these courses, and a number of female students have approached me, noting they are disgusted and uncomfortable with the amount of "leching" taking place (edit: there are no unwanted advances, but it's painfully obvious to some students what's taking place). It's also demoralizing several of them, since we routinely have cases where a young man is leading open labs as if they're a teacher themselves (in order to "wow" their female classmates, offer "private free tutoring sessions", etc). Some of the young students in my class take up these offers, and this further demoralizes other female students seeing this happen (i.e. only attractive women being offered tutoring sessions). This is further compounded by the condescension involved (i.e. one self-admitted user of the app told me "this material that others struggle with is so easy for me, and I'm doing it for laughs and phone numbers.").
How can I stop this?
People auditing the course don't have to take the exams, or attend regularly. They can showboat in a course that's easy for them at zero risk or cost to themselves. I have no means to kick people from the course, despite this obvious behavior, and the people abusing the course can basically come and go as they please.
The university administration refuses to even acknowledge the problem exists (mostly, to my knowledge, because they don't want to admit fault or harm being caused by publishing such granular diversity reports), a few fellow profs either find it comical, or are happy that open labs are so full of volunteer tutors (perk to them, I guess). It seems that all parties are ignoring the young students I teach. I don't know if there are any legal routes, and there's no way I could do a public name-and-shame without jeopardizing my career. I'm at a total loss here.
I scheduled a morning meeting with a senior colleague who has helped me with hard problems in the past (sort of the "go to guy" when things get rough). My husband and I had a long serious talk with him, and it's been made clear the university won't help me with this, as it would mean a "black left eye" for them, and I'd be tossed to the wolves on the left and right. If I want to pursue this further, I have to be prepared to forfeit my career, credibility (i.e. be black-balled in industry), and face lawsuits and SLAPP attacks from the university. With our combined salaries, my husband and I are barely making ends meet. My only real recourse is to counsel my students, while hoping that the app eventually gets more unwanted attention. In short, the problem will have to "solve itself", while numerous female students endure even more adversity in STEM by a program intended to help them.