June 23 marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, a landmark piece of legislation that protects the rights of individuals in their academic and athletic endeavors.
Beth Howard, executive director of equal opportunity and Title IX programs, recently discussed the importance of Title IX and how it has reshaped the college experience since its passage in 1972.
What is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that protects individuals from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities. It applies to institutions, such as The University of Alabama, that receive federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education.
How has the implementation of Title IX reshaped the educational experience over the years?
When Title IX first passed in 1972, the opportunities for women were limited in some areas. The initial focus of the law was directed at athletics and admissions. According to history.com, in 1972, there were 30,000 athletic opportunities for women in NCAA sports as opposed to 170,000 opportunities for men. The NCAA reported for the 2020-2021 academic year, 491,255 student athletes participated in all NCAA divisions with 215,486 of those being female.
In 1972, 41.4% of students at UA were female. That percentage has grown every year since with female enrollment at its highest in fall of 2021 at 57.6%. The passage of Title IX has been instrumental in providing equitable access to education and activities such as athletics.
Title IX regulations have also clarified that reports of sexual harassment and misconduct are covered by Title IX. Recent Dear Colleague Letters and Regulations issued by the Department of Education have focused on reports of sexual misconduct occurring within education programs and activities. Now, institutions are required to, among other things, have a designated Title IX coordinator and policies explaining what conduct is prohibited, how to report sexual misconduct, the procedures that will take place once a report is made and supportive measures available to the parties.
Also, Title IX prohibits discrimination against pregnant students and requires institutions to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure pregnant students have equal access to education opportunities.
What are some ways that Title IX plays into the daily operation at UA?
Title IX plays a major role at UA and many groups and departments contribute to the University’s overall Title IX campus plan. The Women and Gender Resource Center provides victim advocacy and counseling services for all members of the University community who are survivors of interpersonal violence, as well as family and friends who have been impacted by the abuse. The UA Police Department provides a comprehensive array of law enforcement services including criminal reports and safety planning, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Both the WGRC and UAPD also provide training and programming related to interpersonal violence.
Other areas on campus are also instrumental in promoting equity and inclusion such as the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Safe Zone, Capstone Alliance, various student groups, and others. For more information about resources related to sexual misconduct, see the UA sexual assault and misconduct services and support website.
What is the role of the UA Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX Programs?
The Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX Programs oversees the University’s compliance with Title IX by receiving and investigating reports of sexual misconduct, assisting parties with supportive measures, and providing training and awareness programming. The office also maintains and updates the Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Policy which describes the definitions of Prohibited Conduct and the processes for handling reports of sexual misconduct.
For more information about the Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Policy, resources available, Informal Resolution options, and other resources available, see www.titleix.ua.edu.
What should students and employees do if they feel they need the assistance of the UA Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX Programs?
To make a report, request assistance, or for general questions, contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX Programs by phone at (205) 348-5496 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.