Attorney Patricia Bradley introduced her talk on Title IX to the Fayetteville NOW chapter by asking if we knew the only sport women could receive scholarships for prior to 1972. Field hockey? Nope. Gymnastics? Not that either. Only cheerleading!
Title IX is a comprehensive federal law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex for any educational institution that receives federal funding, and requires compliance across any opportunities offered, from sports to classes to admission and scholarships. Ms. Bradley expounded on her role as Title IX Coordinator at Fayetteville State University, the process a claim goes through, and cited examples on claims and how the university has responded.
The coordinator looks at every aspect of sex discrimination and that includes sexual/dating violence or harassment, as well as unequal access to resources or properly maintained facilities. A recent example of the latter includes a transgender student who could not use any of the gym showers without everyone present knowing they were trans, because all the showerheads were in a central open area. Another example was the poorly maintained tennis courts. FSU only has a women’s team, and their courts were so overgrown and uneven that the school could not even host tournaments on campus – even as the football program was robustly funded. We also discussed what due process looks like and how to protect victims from alleged perpetrators without infringing on either’s rights while the case in ongoing. Ms. Bradley has been pleased with the encouraging responses by the university to fix these issues.
She lastly discussed potential dangers to this progress by federal leadership, such as by no longer mandating that universities report and make public the amount and types of crime on campus, and that we can combat it by encouraging universities and university systems to uphold transparency and responsibility by posting them even when not federally required. I’m sure everyone in our chapter had at least heard of Title IX, but Ms. Bradley gave us wonderful insight into the many ways it protects against discrimination, how the reporting and prosecuting systems work, and actions we can take.
-Jenn Alexander, Fayetteville NOW