Monday, May 21, 2007

Interview with Jessica Gavora

Newsweek ran an interview this past weekend with Jessica Gavora of the College Sports Council.

I am not going to pick on every little thing she said but I do want to point out two things that struck me.

First, Gavora claims repeatedly that it's not Title IX she is against, per se, it is the proportionality "quota." Her anti-proportionality stance leads to her comments that the financial burdens of football and men's basketball are not the problem, rather it's the meticulous counting of opportunities that result in the cuts to men's programs. She divorces the issue of finance from the discussion of opportunity which, of course, it cannot be.

Second, she takes issue with women's sports advocates who argue that the interest survey is flawed. Gavora believes we are asking the "university to create interest" when our real argument is that the university, itself a site of gender discrimination, should not continue to discriminate by using a method of assessing interest that cannot even begin to deconstruct the way our society has created, in its own interest, gender roles that clearly steer young men and women toward different activities.

1 comment:

Erica said...

By focusing on the proportionality option to show compliance with Title IX, Gavora completely ignores prongs 2 (demonstrating consistent expansion of opportunities for women) and 3 (fully accomodating the interests of female students). If it truly is an issue of needing to have more female athletes on the roster, as she contends, and not a budgetary issue tied to over spending for flagship programs(which she emphatically denies), then there should be sufficient money to add teams for women without cutting men's teams. This incidentally would also accomodate prong 2 and by definition increase opprotunities for women. So if it's not a financial decision, why not just add women's teams?

Secondly, the school that seems to be highlighted in the interview is JMU, where 3 women's teams were also cut alongside the 7 men's teams. How can Title IX be to blame if they were eliminating opportunities for women, completely anathema to the letter and purpose of Title IX?

I realize that the survey is meant to satisfy prong 3, but it is entirely inadequate. First problem is the obvious issue of who responds to surveys. Surveys are routinely discarded and disregarded by students with much more pressing school and extra-curricular commitments. And non responses could be considered non-interest. Also, how much interest is necessary to show that a school still needs to make improvements? A majority of female students? A plurality? Enough to play on a team? What's the magic number? And what about incoming students, are they counted? Finally it doesn't take into account that these schools may have club or intramural teams of women dying to play varsity. The entire survey idea invokes the image of the proverbial fox guarding the hen house. It is in a school's interest, if not complying with Title IX, to send a quick survey and hope for non-responses, instead of thoroughly and wholistically examining the interest among club and intramural teams, the student body as a whole, student leaders, accepted students' stated activities (who knows how many high school athletes decline admission to a school so that they can play somewhere else).
Sorry this was so long but Title IX made a huge difference in my ability to play sports in college and I'll never forget that.
~Erica Marrero
Womenstake.org