Thursday, July 28, 2011

Title IX and community colleges

The NYT ran a very interesting article last week about the application of and compliance with Title IX at the country's community colleges.
Community colleges face unique challenges when trying to comply with the law. It's non-traditional student body, of which women make up the majority--often a large majority, has lead many community colleges to believe they cannot possibly comply. Additionally, community colleges are facing the same--if not worse--budget issues as four-year institutions.
But this does not mean they are exempt from providing their female students with opportunities to play sports.
Many women who attend community colleges are juggling multiple roles in addition to being students: parent, employee, domestic caregiver/doer. They are often older. But, according to Katie Thomas's article, male students have similar constraints.
In my mind all this means is that the fact that community colleges offer fewer sports than 4-year institutions makes sense. The community college population is less likely to be able to fit sports into their schedules.
The article highlights several schools that are complying--but they work at it. They recruit. And actually, it isn't very hard. Athletic directors have found that when they tell women there are spots for them--they come. Interest and ability? Sounds like it's there is many cases.
And, again, measuring interest in a responsible way--and probably in a way that would be specific, here, to a community college population--is always an option.
I've taught at community colleges. There is a very unique student population, which makes community colleges really great places to work and go to school in many respects. But not so unique that community colleges get a pass on providing gender equity.