Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chronicle Projects Increased Title IX Enforcement in the Obama Administration

Gender equity advocates are optimistic about Title IX enforcement under the Obama Administration, according to an article in the current issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Though President Obama has not made specific statements about Title IX, he did single out the Department of Education for its "lax approach to enforcement" under President Bush. Based on this statement, as well as the candidate Obama's statements about the positive role of sports in his and his daughters' lives, many except a more proactive and responsive Office for Civil Rights than the one that undertook only a single compliance review in a four year period and left "what is likely to be a sizeable backlog" of uninvestigated complaints. It was also suggested by one article source that the President's administration will rescind or at least revise the 2005 Clarification that lets institutions demonstrate compliance based on the results of an interest survey.

Dr. Christine Grant surmised that Title IX under the Obama administration "will be better than the last eight years, because I don't think it can get any worse."

The article's sources conflicted about the role the economy will play in the Obama Administration's enforcement efforts. Men's sports advocates argued that OCR should emphasize alternatives to proportionality compliance, since it is too costly for schools to add women's sports in these tough times (to this point, we've recently noted evidence to the contrary -- here, here, here and here for example). Others believe that the economic crisis could actually have a "silver lining" if it causes athletic departments to reign out of control expenditures in big-budget (and largely unprofitable) men's sports like basketball and football.