Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lawsuit against Columbia dismissed

Citing violations of Title IX and the First Amendment, lawyer Roy Den Hollander sued Columbia University for offering a women's studies program, but not a men's studies program. But his lawsuit was dismissed earlier this week.

I am not the legal expert among us here, but I am in women's studies so this case interested me.

The claims were dismissed because of lack of standing (Hollander never actually took or tried to take a women's studies course at Columbia--he was just suing on behalf of damaged men everywhere) and because the judge found that the First Amendment claims were bogus. Hollander's approach was to argue that feminism is akin to religion, hence the discrimination. Feminism was being foisted on students.

The Title IX claim was that courses were being offered about one gender but not the other. It's not courses about--it's access to said courses or any other activity sponsored by an educational institution. Besides, I have never heard of, witnessed, or participated in a women's studies course that only talked about women. It's pretty much impossible to do.

Hollander will likely continue on his mission to bring justice for men to all areas of society, including the justice system itself which he believes kowtows to "the feminists."

I am just glad I never had him in one of my classes!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Delaware State cuts wrestling

DSU announced yesterday that it is cutting its wrestling team due to economic issues, gender equity concerns, and issues around the team's academic performance.

The last is a problem plaguing several DSU teams and will likely result in some NCAA sanctions.
But it was the wrestling team that received the bad news. No word on the criteria used to make the decision, but it seems like there was very little department support for the team in recent years. Four coaches in the past four years, no dedicated facility and the increasing awareness that the team needed more than the school was able to provide. In the end, the department will save just under $40,000 by eliminating the team (not including, of course, projected costs to make improvements).
The Delaware wrestling community is taking the news hard given that now no state school will field a wrestling team. University of Delaware cut their team in the early 90s.
A local high school coach, Dicky Howell, spoke repeatedly of the lack of institutional support for the team and the student-athletes but turned around and blamed Title IX anyway citing the loss of wrestling teams since the passage. But as many of us know, and as Donna Lopiano reiterated last week in her talk at Western New England College, wrestling's demise isn't because of Title IX. It just is not as popular of a sport any more. There are certainly pockets of interest but other sports have overtaken it in terms of participation. And with the increasing emphasis on specialization at earlier and earlier ages, less popular sports see an even sharper decrease in participation. Maybe more kids would wrestle if they weren't playing soccer or lacrosse year-round.
And, of course, we are only speaking of men's wrestling. Women's wrestling seems to be growing. It remains to be seen how the sport, which the NCAA still has not recognized as an emerging sport, grows in the coming years.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Maine cuts two sports

The University of Maine is cutting two varsity sports this year: women's volleyball and men's soccer. Economic woes are behind the cuts. Losing these two programs will save the department, which is being required to participate in its share of the school's overall budget reductions, $600,000 next year and $900,000 down the road.

Interestingly despite what looks like equal cuts: one men's team, one women's team (even though most of us know that is not how things shake down; men are losing 26 opportunities; women 15) this student newspaper editorialist still feels the need to invoke "Social Darwinism" and complain about how Title IX impedes this survival of the fittest battle. I guess intercollegiate athletics are just not competitive enough. A school's teams have to battle one another for recruiting dollars, travel budgets, trainers, etc. in more overt ways than they do already. Sorry gymnastics team, you didn't make it to the post-season last year. No more team trainers for you. You're going to have to tape your own ankles (and please pay for the tape while you are at it).
It is unfortunate that all the other stuff about intercollegiate athletics--like teamwork, health/fitness, time management, school pride--have become subordinated in this win-at-all-costs, zero-sum game.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

MIT cutting 8 sports

MIT announced yesterday that it will cut eight varsity sports from what was once the largest (tied with Harvard at 41 sports) roster of intercollegiate sports in the country.
Citing current and forthcoming budget issues (the institution as a whole is looking to save close to $150 million in the next few years), the athletic department and student life jointly presented the decision. At the end of this year men's and women's ice hockey (sniff), gymnastics, wrestling, golf, Alpine skiing, and pistol. (I know that looks like only seven; I assume that another one of the listed sports has a men's and women's team thus equalling eights squads total. But even the NYT didn't pick up on the this-doesn't-equal-eight listing. Oh wait--it's gymnastics according to the AP.)
The announcement was not a surprise within the MIT community. Rumors of some cuts have been around for a few weeks now. Factors that went into the decision included coaching turnover, student interest, practice facilities, competitive opportunities, and overall program costs. (The cuts are expected to save just under $500,000.) No specific mention of Title IX concerns (student interest could loosely be considered a Title IX issue). We shall see if that becomes an issue.
With 33 remaining sports, MIT will remain the largest intercollegiate program in Division III and no further cuts are expected. The institution is urging affected student-athletes to join or form club sports.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Flip-flops, Part II

The news that the NCAA has named sand volleyball has created some discussion--and concerns. With the economy in the toilet and so many athletic departments struggling, some are wondering how sand volleyball is going to get started. And it's true that discussions such as facilities and scholarships need to happen. But they need to happen whenever there is the possibility of adding a team--men's or women's. Discussions about building multi-million dollar stadiums are happening right now as many schools consider adding football in an attempt to raise revenues.
And we have to remember that this new designation is not a requirement. All it means is if schools are considering adding a sport, this is one of the options.
I also discovered that sand volleyball is going to be played in the spring. This opens the door to indoor players transitioning to outdoor in the spring as well as coaching staffs if a school does not want to seek out new coaches. But the hitch to this is that indoor coaches do their recruiting in the spring. So there may be some scheduling issues.
Also sand volleyball will be like professional and Olympic beach volleyball in that it will be played in teams of two. This still leaves open the issue of scoring. Will it be like wrestling and tennis in which there are individual (or duo in this case) contests and these wins contribute to an overall team score.
Still unresolved--uniforms. Good to see others have concerns over this: remains to be seen how a game that banked on sex appeal will translate to the collegiate sports world.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Break out the flip-flops!

The NCAA has approved "sand volleyball" as an emerging sport. (That's beach volleyball for all you with quizzical looks on your faces; they are calling it sand volleyball to appeal to landlocked institutions.) Competition is slated to begin in the 2010-11 school year.

I did not see anything on the format (2-person as in the Olympics? or more?). What season will they play in? Same as indoor volleyball? Will there be a lot of overlap between indoor and sand players?

Or the uniforms. Are bikinis going to be the norm? Are they going to be required? Female beach volleyball players are probably one of the most sexualized groups of female athletes out there in part because they don't have to go out of their way to pose in skimpy outfits, they play in skimpy outfits.

A few years ago I heard a good presentation about indoor volleyball uniforms worn by women (the short shorts and tight tops) and I am sure this will be a popular topic of inquiry at future academic conferences.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Quinnipiac Volleyball Sues

Quinnipiac University volleyball players are challenging the university's recent decision to cut their sport. Their lawyers at the ACLU filed suit this week in federal court, arguing that the loss of women's volleyball is a clear violation of Title IX because Quinnipiac does not offer women athletic opportunities in numbers proportionate to their percentage of the student body. According to the ACLU's press release, Quinnipiac's student body is 50% female, but women receive only 38% of athletic opportunities. Even taking into account Quinnipiac's plans to cut men's teams (track and golf), the plaintiffs allege, those cuts do not offset the existing disparity made worse by the loss of 12-15 opportunities in women's volleyball.

While proportionality is just one of three alternatives that schools may use to demonstrate compliance in the number athletic opportunities offered for men and women, cutting a viable women's team necessarily renders the school ineligible for compliance the other two tests. (Prong two requires history and continuing practice of expanding opportunities for women, and prong three requires enough opportunities to satisfy women with an interest and ability in sports.)

Quinnipiac's complaint does not refer to the university's announced plans to add women's cheerleading as a varsity sport. Presumably, this issue will be raised as part of the university's defense. If cheerleading offers enough participation opportunities to put Quinnipiac in proportionality compliance, the question will be whether cheerleading "counts" as a sport for Title IX -- an issue no court has yet to consider.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ninth Circuit Affirms Ruling Against Transgender Plaintiff in Bathroom Discrimination Case

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling that dismissed plaintiff Rebecca Kastl's lawsuit against Maricopa County Community College. Kastl, who is transsexual, was a MCCC student and instructor, and sued the college in 2002 after it banned her from using the women's restroom and subsequently decided not to renew her contract. Kastl argued that these decisions constituted unlawful sex discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause, Title VII, and Title IX, but the lower court dismissed her suit. In affirming that decision, the Ninth Circuit acknowledged that it recognizes that, under the Price Waterhouse doctrine, discrimination against a transgender plaintiff for failing to conform to gender stereotypes is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by law. However, the court determined that the college did not ban Kastl from the women's restroom for discriminatory reasons, but rather, for permissible "safety concerns." Since Kastl did not allege that those safety concerns were actually pretext for a discriminatory motive, she did not make out a sufficient case for sex discrimination, the court reasoned.

Unfortunately, it appears that the district court's decision, and as a result, the parties' briefs on appeal, focused on the first question -- whether and under what theory Kastl is protected under antidiscrimination law at all, and not the "safety concern" alternative rationale offered by the college. I could not find where or whether the courts examined or the parties briefed the safety issue, which did not receive more than a sentence in the appellate court's opinion. It certainly seems arguable (if not obvious) that safety is a pretext for the college's discomfort with the plaintiff's transsexuality, especially if there is no evidence that the plaintiff's presence in the women's bathroom actually did threaten the safety of other women who were there. As a result, I am disappointed that the court didn't explain this aspect of the decision more fully. The decision reads as if the court -- like Maricopa County Community College, perhaps? -- is trying to avoid having to engage in any meaningful analysis over the hard and uncomfortable questions raised by the case.

Decision: Kastl v. Maricopa County Community College District, 2009 WL 990760 (9th Cir. Apr. 14, 2009).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Roundup of Recent Harassment Cases

Here are summaries of the four most recent federal court decisions in cases involving Title IX and sexual harassment. All four are favorable to the plaintiffs.
  • The federal district court in Arkansas denied the Fayetteville School District's motion to dismiss several of plaintiff Billy Wolfe's claims that its failure protect him from anti-gay harassment violated Title IX and the U.S. Constitution. The court also left open the possibility that the plaintiff could receive punitive damages if he prevails on his Title IX claim. Wolfe v. Fayetteville, Arkansas School Dist., 2009 WL 485400 (W.D. Ark. Feb 26, 2009).
  • A federal court in Michigan denied the Merrill Community School District's motion to dismiss Title IX claim sexual harassment suit brought by an eighth grade girl who was raped by a ninth grade boy. The plaintiff alleged that the school district knew of the boy's prior sexual misconduct at his former school, his general disciplinary problems, and several acts of aggression and harassment against the plaintiff that preceded the rape. The court reasoned that it would be possible for a jury to conclude based on these facts that the district's response constituted the deliberate indifference required for Title IX liability to attach. Doe v. Merrill Community School District, 2009 WL 817534 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 26, 2009).
  • Parents' Title IX claim against the School District stemming from a teacher's sexual abuse and harassment of their first grade children survived the district's motion to dismiss. The court rejected the district's argument that the parents had not provided adequate notice of to anyone in the district with authority to curtail the teacher's ongoing conduct. The plaintiffs alleged that three different sets of parents informed the principal and assistant principal over the span of three months that the teacher had asked a student for a massage under his clothes, that he regularly isolated female students, that he had "bounced a student on his lap in a strange manner," and that the teacher was making the first graders uncomfortable with his touching. (Really? The school district did nothing with this information?) Doe ex rel. Doe v. White, 2009 WL 890557 (C.D. Ill. Mar. 30, 2009).
  • Citing the Supreme Court's recent decision in Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee, the federal district court in Arizona granted a plaintiff's motion to reconsider the court's earlier dismissal of her Equal Protection claim on the grounds it was preempted in by Title IX. Power v. Gilbert Public Schools, 2009 WL 890482 (D. Ariz. Mar. 31, 2009).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fired University of Hawaii Basketball Coach Files Retaliation Suit

Via Helen at WHB I learned that Jim Bolla, the former women's basketball coach at the University of Hawaii, recently filed a lawsuit challenging his termination as unlawful retaliation under Title IX. UH fired Bolla for cause last week after investigating reports that he kicked a player and was verbally abusive towards them. Bolla maintains he was fired because he complained to the athletic director about a million dollar disparity in funding for men's and women's basketball. At the time of his complaint, his personnel file contained no negative documentation, but a month later, he was presented with notice of complaints against him, some of which were more than three years old. Under Bolla's five year tenure, his team produced a losing record of 64-80 and went 8-23 this year.

Bolla's case bears some similarities to other successful retaliation cases including Jaye Flood's against Florida Gulf Coast University (initially investigated for tugging a player's shirt, only evidence of negative performance appeared in her file after she complained about gender inequities) and Vickie Dugan, who in 1997 won a million dollar jury verdict against Oregon State after successfully arguing that her losing record was a result of the funding disparities about which she had complained. And though most of the high profile verdicts and settlements in Title IX retaliation cases were awarded to female plaintiffs, there is also precedent for success by male coaches of women's teams. It will be interesting to see if Bolla's case turns out similarly.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Conference Secures Broadcast of HS Girls' Basketball Tournament Selection Show

Title IX and women's sports advocates frequently bemoan gender disparities in media's coverage of high school and college sports. So it was nice to read about a high school athletic conference (upstate New York's Section III) that leveraged its broadcast rights to take steps towards equal coverage of boys and girls basketball by Time Warner Cable.

Last year, Time Warner aired a selection show announcing the pairings in the boys' basketball tournament but offered no similar coverage for the girls' tournament. The Section III committee took stock of this and other inequities in the respective basketball tournaments (including disparities in recognition of the winning teams) and negotiated a new contract with Time Warner to ensure that it airs a selection show for both the boys and girls tournaments. Though the agreement does not require Time Warner to broadcast the girls' basketball finals, Section III officials quoted in the article suggest this issue will be taken up in the near future.

While the media itself is not regulated by Title IX, this story shows that rights holders who are concerned about gender equity can use their bargaining position to correct imbalances in its coverage. If a state high school association do this, why can't the NCAA?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Court Approves MHSAA's Agreement for Payment of Damages Award

The Michigan High School Athletic Association is on the hook for $6 million dollars after federal courts determined that its scheduling of girls' sports in the nontraditional seasons violated Title IX and the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause. MHSAA's various appeals kept the litigation going for over a decade, but the final chapter in this case closed last week when the district court approved the parties agreement over the details of MHSSA's payment of the damages and attorneys' fees to parents and their attorneys who filed the successful suit.

Here are the details of that agreement, as reported in the local press:
The MHSAA must pay $2.5 million immediately, and $550,000 before May 1 from this year to 2014. The final installment of $200,000 is due May 1, 2015. The association can pay off the balance early and receive a discount of up to 10 percent, or defer up to $250,000 over the first three years at an interest rate of 10 percent.

As part of the agreement, National City Bank has a first priority lien and Communities for Equity has a judicial lien on the MHSAA’s headquarters. The association is allowed to receive a loan of up to $750,000 from National City.

The MHSAA can’t sell any of its assets without Communities for Equity’s written consent, and the association can’t get out of paying by filing for bankruptcy.
This payment schedule, which gives MHSSA flexibility and time to pay off its debt and which also reflects a total liability that is reduced from the initial $7.4 million dollar attorneys fee award, likely reflects concern on all sides (see this prior post) that the damages award against MHSSA not bankrupt the organization to the detriment of the student-athletes and schools who benefit from its continued existence.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Court Dismisses Department of Education as Defendant in Single-Sex Education Suit

As you may recall from this prior post, some parents in Kentucky are challenging the legality of the Department of Education's regulations that allow schools to offer single-sex education. The parents (represented by the ACLU) sued the Breckinridge County Board of Education, which it alleges has violated Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause by offering sex-segregated middle school math and science classes that provide substantially unequal instruction to girls and boys. They have also sued the Department of Education itself for promulgating the regulations on which the school district relies.

Recently, however, the federal court in Kentucky ruled that the Department of Education is not a proper defendant to this lawsuit, and that the plaintiffs can only proceed against the school district itself.

The court first concluded that the plaintiffs cannot rely on Title IX as the basis for a claim against the Department of Education because the statute's private right of action only applies to private defendants, not the government. The court notes that unlike the private right of action against educational institutions, which is implied, the right of action against the Department of Education to challenge its regulations is expressly provided in the statute itself. And the statute expressly limits judicial review to situtions where relief "may otherwise be provided by law for similar action taken by such department or agency on other grounds." The court interprets this as a requirement that plaintiffs "look to another avenue for review of DOE's regulations under Title IX."

Accordingly, the court then proceded to examine the plaintiffs' claims that the agency's regulations also violate the Administrative Procedure Act claim -- under which courts can invalidate regulations that are "arbitrary and capricious" and violate statute and constitutional law. The court determined that this alternative grounds for review was also unavailable to the plaintiffs. In particular, the court reasoned, it is foreclosed by the availability of "other adequate remed[ies] in court" -- an exception contained in section 704 of the APA (which authorizes judicial review of "[a]gency action made reviewable by statute and final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in a court"). Applying this exception, the court reasoned that the plaintiff's claims against the school district provides an "adequate remedy" because those claims also test the legality of the regulations themselves. It is the school district's decision to impose sex-segregated classroom, rather than "the mere existence" of the Department's regulation itself that causes the plaintiffs a "cognizable injury" that can be challenged in court. Thus, under 704, the plaintiffs must seek relief only against the school district rather than the school district and the agency together.

A number of things puzzle me about this decision. First, I doubt the Department of Education is going to leave the defense of its regulations up to the school district, so won't it still want to participate in the litigation (as in intervenor, for example)? That being the case, why did it work so hard to get the court to dismiss the claims against it? Second, I note that the court does not acknowledge and attempt to distinguish other cases like this one in which Title IX's implied right of action was interpreted to apply to suits against the agency as well. If the ACLU challenges this decision, will the appellate court be similarly dismissive of plaintiff's Title IX claims? Third, what happens to the plaintiff's argument that the regulations are arbitrary and capricious in violation of the APA? This is not an argument that the plaintiffs can raise against the school district, so how can there be an "adequate remedy" for it in the plaintiff's remaining claims? Another issue about which I am curious in the event of an appeal.

Decision: A.N.A. v. Breckinridge County Bd. of Educ., 2009 WL 899441 (Mar. 30, 2009).

New York High School Sued Over Antigay Harassment

Lambda Legal has filed suit against Indian River High School (in upstate New York) on behalf of Charlie Pratt and his sister, Ashley Petranchuk. The lawsuit alleges that Charlie suffered harassment and abuse at the hands of his peers while school officials failed to intervene. Lambda charges that the school's anti-gay bias is also evidenced in the principal's refusal to let Ashley start a gay-straight alliance to support her brother.

This article in Outcome (Buffalo's Gay Newspaper) describes the harassment Charlie endured:
Students attacked him relentlessly with antigay and sexist slurs including names like "faggot," "sissy," "queer," and "fudgepacker," often in the presence of teachers who failed to intervene. Students also pushed him into walls and lockers, threatened him, threw food and other objects at him, spat on him, and vandalized his locker with antigay slurs. Staff members at the high school joined the harassment by ridiculing Charlie with stereotypically effeminate gestures in front of other students.

Then-principal James Kettrick – now the district’s superintendent ­­ refused to take appropriate action, and instead told Charlie and his parents, Bobbi and Todd Petranchuk, that Charlie should "tone it down" to avoid harassment. The principal also refused Bobbi Petranchuk’s request to train teachers to address antigay bullying, and he failed to change the school’s written policies to match state anti-harassment laws covering sexual orientation. Left with no other options, Charlie’s parents withdrew him from school for his own protection.
Lambda claims that the school's conduct violates the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause, as well as Title IX and New York State's antidiscrimination law. With respect to the Title IX claim, this case seems like a slam dunk. Telling the victim to "tone it down" seems to me a clear example of "deliberate indifference" to known harassment.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Title IX Blog in the news

Ebuz--and the blog--got some press the other day in an article out of Birmingham that delved into what exactly President Obama was going to do with Title IX.
No one knows of course. Most suspect he will not weaken the legislation as his predecessor did. And many advocates remain hopeful that he will do something. But it remains to be seen whether he will strengthen it by, for example, ditching the problematic "clarification" about prong three that emerged under the Bush II administration.
He does support the legislation that would mandate high schools begin to report their numbers as colleges and universities currently do. I would be surprised if we did not see that legislation passed during this administration. And he seems to advocate a pro-active approach when he says that he would like the Department of Education to, well, educate schools on how to meet Title IX requirements.
A little pro-activity would be a nice change.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Thoughts on Training Rules

Unfortunately not ours as we have not yet been able to see the recently premiered documentary about former Penn State b-ball coach Rene Portland. (We hear it will be available for distribution this fall.)

But Training Rules debuted this past weekend at the Philadelphia Film Festival. Pat Griffin of It Takes a Team! was there and has posted her thoughts on the film and her experience at the premiere. (And yes, we were extremely jealous!) Griffin was in the film along with Jennifer Harris's lawyers, Harris herself (all of whom were bound by confidentiality agreements that accompanied the settlement.) But other former players and an assistant coach were not and their stories were quite poignant according to Griffin and judging by the strong reactions of the audience that she recounts.

Not quite so enthusiastic was a critic from the Philadelphia Inquirer who said that the movie was hampered by the gag rule on the parties and, of course, the lack of Portland's voice (the filmmaker used recruiting and game footage of her). He was also disappointed that the film did not put forth more solid reasons behind Portland's homophobia. He did think the film made an excellent point about the negative effects of homophobia in women's sports but that the point had been effectively made in the first ten minutes. In the end, his 2 out of 4 star review stated that it was more like a Bryant Gumbel Real Sports segment and not worthy of a full-length documentary.

And this article is also about the premiere and includes comments from some of the people in the film as well as the producers and filmmaker.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Court Holds CA School District's Athletic Opportunities Violate Title IX

A federal district court in California has ruled in favor of plaintiffs challenging the distribution of athletic opportunities at Castle Park High School in Chula Vista. The court reasoned that the current 6.7 percentage point disparity between the percentage of athletic opportunities afforded to girls (38.7%) and the percentage of girls in the student body (45.4%) does not qualify as substantial proportionality "because the 6.7% difference reflects 47 girls who would have played sports if athletic participation was proportional to female enrollment." The school district also failed to satisfy either of the alternative compliance prongs because the district did not have a history and continuing practice of expanding athletic opportunity for girls, and could not dispute plaintiffs' argument that interest in girls' field hockey, tennis, and water polo remained unmet. With respect to the latter prong, the court dismissed the school district's argument that it was unable find someone willing to coach a field hockey team, since that has no bearing on the question of unmet interest.

The court is currently scheduling further proceedings to address the question of a remedy, as well as the plaintiffs' other claims, not yet addressed by the court, that the school does not provide facilities and other resources of equal quality to girls' and boys' teams and that the district retaliated against the plaintiffs (by firing the softball coach and barring parents from running a concession stand during softball games and serving as assistant coaches) for complaining about Title IX violations.

Decision: Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High School District, 2009 WL 886223 (S.D. Cal. 2009).

NC county trying to comply

Not sure how reliable all the facts provided in this article are given that the writer(s?) thought that OCR stands for Office of Civil Review.

It's probably true, though, that the county schools of New Hanover have a list of Title IX violations most of which relate to facilities. But they are not news either because OCR--that's the Office for Civil Rights--has already paid a visit to North Carolina. In fact, this past Monday was a deadline for remedying some of the disparities. And some have indeed been remedied.

At one school what was once the boys' baseball locker room has been divided in half (wall down the middle) for the girls' softball team, which previously did not have its own dedicated locker room.

Other improvements are apparently on the way with renovations to fields being high on the list.

Also appears that the ABC affiliate in NC is running a series about the Title IX issues. So stay tuned. There may be more.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Congratulations future leaders!

We at the Title IX Blog offer our enthusiastic congratulations to our friend and fellow Title IX advocate Amy Wilson, a PhD candidate at University of Iowa. Amy was recently named, by NACWAA (National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics), one of five Administrators of Tomorrow.
Here's the write-up of Amy's accomplishments:
Amy Wilson is the recipient of the Football Bowl Subdivision Administrator of Tomorrow Award. Wilson has garnered several accomplishments during her graduate and doctoral stint at the University of Iowa. Wilson was co-creator (along with Dr. Christine Grant) of the Gender Equity Questionnaire that was used by the University of Iowa in its NCAA Certification Self-Study for Title X issues; was elected by her peers to be the Ph.D. representative to the Graduate Faculty Committee; and has given 8 presentations on Title IX in the last 2 years, including one at 2007 "Girls & Women Rock”: Celebrating 35 Years of Sport & Title IX Academic & Legal Conference. “She is a natural leader among her peers and is highly respected by the graduate faculty. ...the highest compliment I can pay her is to select her to take over my Title IX Website and assume my responsibilities to make Title IX presentations when I decide to step down,” stated Dr. Christine Grant, Professor at the University of Iowa.

Friday, April 03, 2009

UMass cuts skiing

In an attempt to deal with budget woes, University of Massachusetts has cut its men's and women's ski teams. The teams, which did not offer scholarships, will become club teams.
Rumors swirled at the Amherst campus that it was baseball in jeopardy. But yesterday's announcement put those on the team at ease.
AD John McCutcheon would not say what the criteria were for cutting. It did not, apparently, take operating budgets into consideration. The Boston Globe found that skiing costs about $30,000 while baseball costs...well that's also not readily apparent. McCutcheon says $185,000 but the Globe says department minutes from a 2007 meeting about cutting sports cites costs being close to $400,000.
I wish McCutcheon had been more transparent about the process because when you're talking about an $850,000 budget shortfall, $30,000 seems like loose change in your pocket.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

ACLU Settles With Sex Segregated Middle School

The ACLU backed off of its threats to sue Mobile County, Alabama, after the county agreed to stop its practicing of segregating the entire student body at Hankins Middle School by sex for all classes and activities.

Under the settlement agreement, elective classes and nonacademic activities (such as lunchtime) are immediately re-integrated. The county also agreed that as of next school year, all courses will be integrated and no school will institute any sex segregated programs for the next three years. For two years following that three-year moratorium, any plans to institute new single-sex programs must go to the ACLU in advance.

As we noted in earlier posts, Mobile's decision to segregate an entire middle school likely violated Title IX regulations, which allow experimentation with same-sex instruction but only where parents have notice and an opportunity to opt out. It was also almost certainly a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, since such broad-based segregation was not narrowly tailored to a persuasive justification. Parents were concerned, moreover, that single-sex classrooms were being used to teach kids "ideas about gender that come from the dark ages." For example, a language arts exercise for girls asked them to use as many descriptive words as possible to describe their dream wedding cake. The boys' assignment was to brainstorm action verbs used in sports.

Though single-sex classes are popping up all over, only Hankins Middle School had taken the drastic step of converting its entire school to a single-sex model. The ACLU's successful settlement will likely deter other schools from going to similar extremes. Perhaps it will even give schools pause before engaging in more limited experiments with single-sex education.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Kutztown cutting programs

Administrators at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania have announced that they will be cutting two sports: men's swimming and men's soccer. They are calling it a proactive move meant to preserve academics. The decision to cut these two particular sports were made after an external study by consultant hired by the DII institution.
Thirty-two athletes have been affected (directly; some of the male swimmers are arguing that the women's team, with whom they train, will also suffer because they will not have the men there to "push them"). The cuts will save approximately $150,000. The university will, of course, honor all current scholarships to athletes who choose not to transfer.

Kansas upgrading facilities

The University of Kansas, after undertaking an internal review on gender equity and review an external committee's report, has developed a master plan designed to improve the quality of women's athletics facilities at the university.
A new and improved boathouse for the crew team debuted this year already. Plans also include new soccer complex and volleyball stadium (of increased size so as to enable the university to host tournament games). Also slated for upgrade is the softball complex; a facility specifically cited in the external report. The report's verbiage is curious though:
“The softball facility should be of equal quality as the baseball facility but on a smaller scale.”
Not sure exactly what that means but the result will be a concession stand, grandstand, restrooms. I suppose what they are saying is "you don't have to have as many seats in the stands or stalls in the bathrooms; but they better be the same quality as what exists in the baseball complex."
What is a little more curious is that even though these improvements were cited as part of a gender equity/Title IX review the associate athletic director says they are Title IX compliant--that they just don't want to treat their female athletes like second-class citizens. Not sure what this misconception is based on. I think too many people believe that if you have satisfied one of the three prongs, you're good to go. They fail to see that meeting the interests and abilities of the underrepresented sex is only one component of compliance. Facilities is another (just ask all those high schools who are furiously trying to set their softball fields up to par after being threatened with--or subjects of--lawsuits).
All these facilities improvements are costly--probably $10million by the time they are done. But Kansas administrators say it will all be done through donations.