This year marks the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, a federal law that passed 40 years ago that provides equal opportunities for women in higher education, sports and addressing sexual assault. In past years, Maryville College Residence Life staff oversaw issues involving Title IX on campus, but that task has now been assigned to the Center for College Ministry.
Until last year, Michelle Ballew- Safewright, former director of campus life at MC, handled all information regarding Title IX. After Ballew-Safewright’s departure, vice president and dean of students Vandy Kemp broke up the job and added responsibilities to three other employees, designating campus minister Anne McKee as the new advisor over Title IX policy at MC. The law is best known for what it has done for women’s sports in higher education programs.
In 1972, there were few opportunities for women to excel in sports related extracurricular activities because schools did not feel obligated to have women’s sports programs. After Title IX went into effect, many schools had to look at their athletic structure and add more sports for women. However, even though the law creates equal opportunities, it does not address having equal expenditures for the teams.
This means, for example, that a women’s volleyball team has the potential to not receive as much funding as a men’s volleyball team. Another section of Title IX ensures equal opportunities for women in the sciences, mathematics and engineering, as such fields are typically male- dominated. McKee recalled an experience in high school that demonstrates why this law is so important to female scholars.
“I signed up to a physics class,” Mckee said. “So I went to physics the first day and the teacher, honest to goodness, looked at all of us and said, ‘There are two people in this class that just should not be here. I don’t let girls in my class. Girls just can’t do this. I won’t teach girls’.”
At the time of the incident, the law had already been passed but since the academic section did not receive much publicity, most individuals involved in academia were unaware that students could not be discriminated against in the classroom based on sex. The final section of Title IX attempts to keep women safe by forcing campuses to take steps to prevent sexual assaults and give victims of sexual assault the power to decide what actions to take if the attack occurs on campus.
MC strives to educate students about how to keep themselves safe while on campus. The school provides pamphlets and distributes them every year by putting one in each mailbox. The pamphlet includes information such as why one should walk in groups at night and not let drinks out of sight at parties.
It then goes on to discuss what you should do if you are sexually assaulted. Along with the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX being passed, comes a chance to reflect on how far women’s rights have advanced over the years.
Although sex discrimination has not been eliminated, laws such as Title IX provide an opportunity to create a world where women and men are treated equally.