Obama administration facelift of Title IX sparks praise, protests

From College News - Bush administration's interpretation of Title IX disregarded in an effort to ensure equality for female college athletes.

With a new ruling, female athletes and women’s rights activists everywhere have reason to sing the praises of the Obama administration.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, Vice President Joe Biden, speaking on behalf of the Office of Civil Rights, announced Tuesday that a Bush administration interpretation on enforcing Title IX will be overturned.

Under President George W. Bush, schools were allowed to use student surveys as proof that the school’s athletic department is ”fully and effectively” accommodating the needs and interests of female athletes, as Title IX requires.

While some groups and colleges applauded the decision, many groups and female athletes viewed the amendment as a cop-out, wherein schools could translate a lack of response from students into a lack of interest.

They argued, as Salon points out, that just because an administrative survey might receive little or no response doesn’t mean that interest isn’t there. They also argued that interest in a sport could not be accurately assayed when it had not previously been made available to athletes.

The change was an issue of contention for years, but the decision made by the Office of Civil Rights to repeal it hopes to ensure that colleges truly are listening to their student body and the concerns of their female athletes.

The groups who had hailed the Bush administration’s decision originally are crying foul.

Instead of using surveys to meet Title IX’s requirements, colleges would then be required to ensure that the participation of athletes in both sexes is directly proportionate to their numbers of enrollment; prove that they have historically been “demonstrably responsive to developing interests and abilities”; or show by other means that the interests of female athletes have been recognized and accommodated.

To these groups, this would potentially mean cutting some of the sports offered for Men’s athletics, cutting the amount of male athletes currently participating or cutting both.

Whether you praise or condemn the Obama administration’s decision, there is no doubt that this issue will not be going away any time soon.

By Janelle Vreeland

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