Update on Title IX Violations by Angie King NOW
5 August 2011 1,761 views No Comment
Update on Title IX Violations Angie King, NOW Title IX refers to the Federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sex in any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance, under the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq. This law has been the subject of a number of lawsuits, notably against the California State University system, and a number of UC campuses. Violations are reported to the US Justice Department Office of Civil Rights, which has the duty to investigate all claims, and take appropriate action if violations are found. Sanctions can include withholding federal funds from the educational program until the violations are corrected. Aggrieved individuals may also file suit in federal court. Recently, a federal judge in Davis ruled that UC Davis violated Title IX by reducing athletic opportunities for its women students. It dropped 61 of the 424 slots for women on intercollegiate teams, by dropping the junior varsity lacrosse and water polo teams, without compensating by expanding opportunities for women in other sports. Davis officials claimed it had met the law’s requirement by demonstrating a history and continuing practice of program expansion that fit women’s interests and skills. Federal guidelines mandate consideration, among other factors, whether the selection of sports and levels of competition effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of members of both sexes. To meet this requirement, the school would typically offer a survey to students to gauge their sports interests. However, under the Obama administration, student surveys of student interest in sports participation are no longer sufficient to meet Title IX requirement that the school was meeting the athletic interests of women on campus. This is a welcome change as the prior administration policy permitted a lack of response to such surveys to represent a lack of interest in athletics. Equal Rights Advocates attorney, Noreen Farrell, who represented the students in the Davis lawsuit, was pleased with the ruling. “This will have widespread implications outside UC Davis. Hundreds of institutions across the country are not in compliance with Title IX.” For instance, Cuesta College. In May 2010, the office of Civil Rights of the US Justice Department investigated Cuesta College for its action in January that year in terminating the entire women’s tennis team, allegedly for budgetary reasons, without compensating in other areas or reducing men’s sports equivalently, and for failing to create the position of Gender Equity Coordinator as required by the 1972 law. Of course, The San Luis Obispo Community College District claimed it does not discriminate in the educational programs and activities operated by the District, or in employment procedures and practices of the District, but admitted the position of Director of Human Resources position was vacant. As of this writing, the results of that investigation have not been made public. This is not the first time Cuesta College has been the focus of a gender discrimination sports-related complaint under Title IX. In 1993 the OCR investigated a claim that Cuesta women’s teams were coached by part time faculty while the corresponding men’s teams had full time coaches. The OCR investigation also considered other areas of gender inequities. A settlement agreement was reached by which Cuesta agreed to increase opportunities for women to engage in sports, and to monitor the money spent on women’s sports in the area of equipment, facilities and travel to ensure compliance with gender equity requirements. For more information on Title IX see: http://www.now.org/issues/title_ix/index.html , and http://www.dol.gov/oasam/regs/statutes/titleix.htm For more information on the Cuesta College investigation, see: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2011/06/12/1639892/results-of-title-ix-investigation.html Angie King has been advocating for women in SLO County for many years, as the chapter coordinator for the National Organization for Women and until recently, as president of the Women’s Community Center.