Enforcing Title IX By Hermina Garic
Title IX was adopted to protect students from gender discrimination. It 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.
Policy change is to be expected from one presidential administration to the next with shifts in party control of the White House. While this is important, so is enforcement, a constant of policy effectiveness. Equity among survivors of sexual violence and accused persons is not possible unless Title IX is properly enforced.
Proper enforcement has been lacking within all education settings. Shan Wu, an attorney who focuses on student legal issues, contends that “faculty and Title IX officers are often unprepared to navigate complex cases, leaving victims of sexual assault, and those accused, overwhelmed and disappointed by ineffective investigations.”
One remedy is “better guidance, protocols and training for Title IX officers, faculty, lawyers, and staff by trained investigators experienced in this type of law.” The system fails victims of sexual violence and alleged perpetrators when educational institutions lack vital resources and the legal consciousness necessary to enforce Title IX.
More generally, promoting greater awareness of the broad spectrum of sexual violence encoded in Title IX would be beneficial as well. States like New York have been working to make this happen.
Enough is Enough legislation, for example, has been instrumental in combating sexual assault on college campuses statewide. A key piece of this legislation requires student leaders on college campuses to understand Title IX and provides resources that can be shared with peers as valuable sources of information. This is one important way to help build legal consciousness through institutional support.
Big policy changes, like the reinterpretation of Title IX this year, are significant, and worthy of scrutiny, reflection, and advocacy. At the same time, effective change can also occur through better realization of existing national standards and creative cooperation at the state level.
Hermina Garic is a government student at Utica College and an intern for the K. Della Ferguson Womyn's Resource Center