Title IX Bush policy reversed; Joe Biden thinks it’s a big fucking deal

Joe Biden
Scott Applewhite/AP
You gotta love a VP who is that enthusiastic about giving girls and women opportunities to engage in sports.
Joe’s joy was captured at an announcement this week that the Department of Education will repeal a policy enforced during the Bush years which allowed schools to use a survey as a tool to prove a lack of interest in women’s sports within federal compliance to Title IX. In other words, a lack of response would mean a lack of interest, therefore a lack of programs. (Because we all know how much people just love to do surveys.) EdWeek reports:

Schools have three ways to comply with Title IX: Match the proportion of female athletes to the proportion of women on campus; show a history of increasing sports for women; or prove the school has met the interest and ability of women to participate in athletics.
Before 2005, the third option required districts and colleges to use multiple indicators to assess athletic interests and abilities. The new letter informs institutions that survey results alone cannot justify an imbalance in women’s sports.
It’s unclear how many schools used the survey as a measure of federal compliance and what the impact was, since schools aren’t required to state which of the three Title IX compliance standards they are using, said Neena Chaudhry, senior counsel for the National Women’s Law Center, a nonprofit organization based in Washington.
There aren’t any statistics to show opportunities for women were denied, but Chaudhry suggested it was a possibility.
“Why wouldn’t they use this policy?” she said. “It’s an easy way out.”

So this is good news. (At least Joe certainly thinks so.)

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11 Comments

  1. alawyer
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Did the availability of sports opportunities for women actually suffer a noticeable decline as a result of the Bush policy? This seems like a fine change but I’m concerned that it’s really a symbolic move that will have little practical impact on women students’ lives.

  2. Toongrrl
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Ohhh happy day. Joe Biden just tickles me.

  3. libdevil
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    @alawyer: The NCAA, with a bit of wisdom, decency, and foresight, told their member schools to ignore the Bush policy. That limited the amount of damage done.

  4. cattrack2
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Title IX has been of tremendous service since its introduction. The Bush policy was a reasonable position though. Its bass ackwards in fact to suggest that surveying women to find out their interest in & preference for sports is somehow anti-feminist. This new policy will only (and justifiably) stoke resentment for Title IX.
    This policy change forces an absurd result. The case we face now is that we will create sports programs for women where no interest exists, while killing programs for men where clear interest exists. All because schools can no longer survey female students in order to determine demand.
    Effectively then, we simply deny women a choice. Choice has to apply to more than reproductive justice.

  5. supremepizza
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Call me crazy but I don’t see the common sense in not allowing surveys to determine the interest by women in sports. This is nearly as big a repudiation of science as under the Bush Administration. Take a campus that 60% female & 40% male. BO’s interpretation would force 60% of athletes to be female & 40% to be male. The thing is however, that female interest in sports doesn’t equal male interest. As a result we’d be creating programs for women who aren’t terribly interested in sports while eliminating programs for men who are clearly interested.
    There’s no denying that female interest in sports is less than male because of socialization. And while we will surely overcome that in the future, that equitable future is not the present. We need to deal in reality. How does this do anything but erode support for Title IX.
    Worse, the impact is asymmetric. Those who care most about this will be men who will then be drawn to support Republicans, while women who are the biggest beneficiaries of it, will care the least about it (because, as we said before, they’re socialized to not like sports).

  6. ElleStar
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    It’s not often that I want to pinch a politician’s cheeks because they’re so gosh-darn cute, but the pic of Biden above (as well as my happiness at the good Title IX news) makes me positively want to LOLcat caption him.
    “Who’s a cwute, good, widdle vice pwesident? You is!”

  7. ElleStar
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    The thing is however, that female interest in sports doesn’t equal male interest.
    Do you have a cite for this? When I was in undergrad, there were more women than men at my school and there were more women than men interested in the organized sports of our campus.
    There’s no denying that female interest in sports is less than male because of socialization.
    I think that depends. I was raised in the highly conservative Republican South and we girls were socialized to be highly athletic in quite a number of sports. We were pushed more into volleyball, basketball, and track (while some of us stuck with soccer and softball, even though it wasn’t as popular) by a lot of socializing forces.
    I think Title IX saved my life. It forced schools to make sports for girls, which actually did change the trends of socialization for girls where I lived. Sometimes you have to legislate change for social change to happen. If we just wait for people to start treating people equally without having to enforce it with some kind of legislation, we’ll be waiting a goddamned long time. I’m tired of waiting.
    Plenty of girls love sports. And as it becomes an avenue for scholarships and further education, more and more girls will be drawn to them.

  8. somnambulicious
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    cattrack2, the new policy doesn’t do away with surveys entirely. Instead, schools are required to use other indicators in addition to surveys. The Bush policy was allowing schools to use surveys alone.
    I don’t understand how the policy change (reinstatement, really) “den[ies] woman a choice.” As far as I can tell, women aren’t being forced to participate in any athletic program, only being given the choice to participate in a greater variety.

  9. somnambulicious
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    supremepizza, the new policy isn’t “not allowing surveys.” Surveys are still taken into consideration, but other indicators must be used as well – “survey results alone cannot justify an imbalance in women’s sports.”
    There are plenty of drawbacks to using surveys alone to measure compliance with Title IX. Survey questions are notoriously easy to game; any university could fudge the wording enough to make itself look compliant.
    Furthermore, many women grew up with very few options in athletics. When you ask an 18-year-old woman whether she wants to play “sports,” the options she considers may very well be limited to basketball, softball, track and field, and tennis. But when women are offered a greater variety of sports, like rugby, rowing, field hockey, or rock climbing, more women will find that yeah, maybe they are interested in “sports.”
    I cannot see how requiring universities to use more than just surveys to prove Title IX compliance will “erode support for Title IX.” All this new policy does is reinstate the pre-Bush policy.

  10. Adormidera
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think that in order for women to get athletic opportunities, they should first have to vouch for their existence (as female athletes) by answering a survey. That only means that women who do “go against the cultural grain” by playing sports are likely to not be paid attention to or financially supported if no one else cares to answer the survey. That effectively leaves them out of sports. Is that good, then? No. It isn’t.
    Also, the “equitable future” will never arrive if we don’t fight the current system that enforces the notion that sports are for men, and an exceptional few women (who have to rally their peers together and take surveys to secure funds that ought to be available to anyone on a campus who wants to play on a team, regardless of their gender.)
    I support this reversal. The old policy made it easier to evade Title IX and to keep women out of sports. If it rubs a few people the wrong way, so be it. With this reversal, inevitably, more women will get involved in sports, justifying an increase in programs and funds specifically for them (that is, if you don’t think equal opportunity is justification enough) and making it far more difficult in the future for opposition to louse up Title IX with Bush-like policies that purposely make it easier to exclude female athletes.
    Also, if a school has 60% women, I’m willing to bet they’ll have enough female athletes to fill their programs, regardless of how many of the 40% of men are athletic as well. I’m not sure how much I buy into the idea that in a smaller pool of men, you’ll somehow find more athletes than in a much larger pool of women. The gender gap in sports has been steadily receding. Partly in thanks to Title IX, of course.

  11. rhowan
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Schools can still use surveys to gauge girls’ interest in sports. They just can’t use the results of one solitary survey as proof that they’re meeting their Title IX obligations.
    Option #3 “prove the school has met the interest and ability of women to participate in athletics” is not being eliminated, it’s just that the standard of proof is being returned to the pre-2005 level. According to the article, for 33 years between 1972 and 2005, the third option “required districts and colleges to use multiple indicators to assess athletic interests and abilities”. Post 2005 it was changed so that the results of a single survey was considered sufficient. Now, once again, schools will be required to provide additional evidence that they are meeting their obligations.
    p.s. If anyone else is having trouble reading the article Vanessa linked to because it’s behind a subscriber wall, here is an alternative link: Officials reverse Bush policy on equity compliance

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