On Sunday, Oct. 30, Janet Judge, a co-author of a manual on Title IX for the NCAA, came to Mercyhurst College to speak about Title IX and its relation to the academic world.
Title IX is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act that enforces equality among genders in the college or university setting, specifically in athletics.
Judge played multiple sports during her undergrad years at Harvard University, where, after graduation, she became the assistant athletic director. She then went on to pursue her law degree from Boston University. She started working with Title IX in 1993.
She currently owns her own legal practice and advises colleges and universities on how to comply with the Title IX amendment.
Judge explained that the general misconception about Title IX is that it refers to sports alone, excluding any discrimination experienced within an academic setting. This is incorrect.
The amendment simply states that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
Sophomore Laura Akin was intrigued when she found out this amendment applied to all areas of academia, not just sports.
“I was very surprised. I didn’t know it affected things other than athletics,” she said.
Judge focused mainly on the problems of equality in athletics, but she did mention that the law affects every area in this setting, including “grad school admissions, science, technology, engineering, math, technical education, employment, intramurals, club teams and sexual harassment.”
Senior Juliana Franks said, “It was nice to hear that instead of just worrying about equality in sports, Title IX is also there to protect the rest of us from discrimination.”
Although this law states that the amendment encompasses everything in a college or university setting, the most easily provable situation for inequality to arise is in the athletic department.
Along with the equal treatment of collegiate athletes, Title IX also covers different compliance areas.
Mercyhurst is doing its part to ensure that the Title IX amendment is being followed.
Assistant Athletic Director Sara Headley said, “Compliance with Title IX is something we continually strive for. It is not an easy thing to attain. Every decision made must be thought through carefully in how it may or may not affect or be affected by Title IX.”
Sophomore Samantha Siegfreth, a field hockey player, said, “I believe that sports at Mercyhurst are pretty equal. We’re all well equipped and get what we need.”
Some critics of the Title IX amendment think this law calls for universities to cut men’s sports programs. This is not the case.
Judge stressed that it is important that all sports teams get equal treatment, not just women’s teams.
“Seventy-six percent of a school’s athletics’ budget is spent on football and baseball. This leaves a very small amount of money for other sports to work with,” Judge said.
Judge also noted the drastic rise in women attending college in the past 40 years.
“According to the Department of Education, the number of women in college is going to continue to increase in the next few years,” Judge said.
Therefore, it is important to maintain Title IX and continue to ensure that both genders are treated equally in all settings of higher education.
Headley said, “Ms. Judge brought up some interesting points regarding compliance, and I am confident her visit will bring about new discussion.”
Judge was part of the Exploring Gender and Relationships yearlong speaker series. The next event is a performance by René Marie on Sunday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m. in the PAC.