Title IX interpretation under fire
Gender and equality in education has been a topic of constant debate since the passing of Title IX of the Educational Amendments into a law in 1972. The purpose of Title IX is to protect people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. Protecting gender equality in educational activities such as athletics had become the source of much controversy over the past 30 years.
The way in which educational institutions have incorporated Title IX into programs, especially athletic, have been a major area of debate. By the rules of Title IX, athletic programs receiving funding from the government must follow three guidelines in order to comply with Title IX. The three guidelines are:
Whether the institution provides opportunities for participation in intercollegiate sports for male and female students in numbers that are substantially proportionate to their respective enrollments; or
Whether the institution can show a history and continuing practice of program expansion that is demonstrably responsive to the developing interests and abilities of the members of the sex that is underrepresented among intercollegiate athletes; or
Whether the institution can show that the interests and abilities of the members of that sex have been fully and effectively accommodated by the present program.
The guidelines have caused tension in athletic programs due to the "proportionality" clause. Many colleges and universities, in order to comply with the "proportionality" rule have had to cut male athletic programs. Because of the consequences of dropping all-male programs, lawsuits have been appearing in courtrooms around the nation, most recently in a January 2002 lawsuit filed by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.
Lawsuits have forced the 15-person commission to review the language of Title IX and make possible recommendations of interpreting Title IX rule.
The most recent meeting was held held in Washington D.C. on January 30. Early speculations have concluded the committee will release a report at the end of February stating for the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education to enforce Title IX less rigorously.
As for how the report on Title IX will come to affect athletics and other activities at Bowdoin is unclear. The outcome of budget negotiations happening at Bowdoin will consequently have effects to activities applicable to Title IX. Director of Athletics, Jeff Ward has declined comment on the issue at this time.