Tweaking Title IX


The Department of Education has introduced a novel way to gauge whether schools are complying with Title IX: Ask the women who are supposed to benefit. The policy, which the department calls a "clarification," allows colleges to demonstrate that they are meeting the demand for women's sports programs by conducting polls online. Theoretically, if a university can prove women are satisfied, it won't have to chase the clumsy quotas that lead to men being punted off the field.

The National Women's Law Center is worked up because the clarification might make Title IX easier to weasel out of. Says a press release:

The survey is inherently flawed because it presumes a survey alone can accurately measure student interests. The guidance does not require schools to look at other factors they once had to consider, such as coaches' and administrators' opinions or women's participation in sports in surrounding high schools or recreational leagues.

So, according to the NWLC, asking women for their opinions isn't the most accurate way to determine what they want?

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  1. Of course the survey doesn’t mean anything, because when a woman says “no” she really means “yes”, right? 😉

  2. Feminist activist groups speak for all women. Anyone suggesting that all women could directly speak for themselves is spouting chauvinistic nonsense.

  3. “So, according to the NWLC, asking women for their opinions isn’t the most accurate way to determine what they want?”

    Um, no. According the NWLC, asking one subset of women their opinions isn’t the most accurate way to determine what the larger set wants.

    You really shouldn’t frown at quotas for being “clumsy” in on paragraph, then feign obtuseness when a fine point is drawn in the next.

  4. joe, I’m not sure I follow your point. According to the NWLC press release, the only “subset” I see is the entire female student body of the school. If the women at the school feel their needs are being met, regardless of the numeric representation of the female students in particular programs, isn’t that the point? Or should their professed needs be disgarded because they haven’t been properly educated by the feminist left as to exactly what their needs should be?

    If you are questioning the way the survey is being conducted (a simple e-mail survey), that’s one thing. But the underlying message is that the best judge of the policy implementation should be determining that the students feel they are being treated fairly.

  5. Phocion,

    I feel the love, baby!

  6. MP, students who currently attend the school are not the only people who could benefit from more athletic programs. If Iowa Itate is in an area where 2/3 of the high school girls play softball, and female high school graduates avoid Iowa State because it doesn’t have women’s softball, a survey of those women who didn’t care enough about softball to find a school that had it will miss the important fact that the “audience” for women’s softball in that area is being spoken for by an unrepresentative subset.

    Don’t get me wrong, the measurement of interest is certainly useful data to consider when determining if women have equal opportunity. The 50/50 rule seems like a very blunt instrument. But the point of revising that rule is to make the measurement more effective at capturing the level of interest, and relying on an unrepresentative subset is a bad way to go about that.

  7. joe, I’m with MP. The point of a poll is to learn about a population. A good poll will accurately reflect on the entire population without every member of the population needing to be polled. If there is any reason to think that this polling technique favors one “subset” of the population over another, that would be a valid complaint. In lieu of that, there is no “subset.”

    That said, a poll still seems a little weird to me. If 45% of the women are disatisfied, does that mean the college is not discriminating against women’s athletics because 55% of the women are satisfied? Doesn’t seem to logically follow, but then, once you enter the domain of group rights, there’s no good measure of fairness.

  8. Damn, I coulda sworn I hit “reload” less than seven minutes before I posted! Anyway…

    joe, I see what you’re saying now, there’s a better, more technical name for that, self-selected sampling bias or something like that.

    Of course, if you’re right that women might avoid a school because of lack of an athletic program (and I believe you are), then clearly they’re going somewhere else where the athletic program is preferable. Meaning the problem is being solved by the you-know-what. If colleges in general don’t meet the demand for women’s athletics for whatever reason, then this sampling bias is not going to be apparent, at least not nationwide.

  9. Um, no. According the NWLC, asking one subset of women their opinions isn’t the most accurate way to determine what the larger set wants.

    Welcome to Democracy, where you can’t spell “suffrage” without “suffer”.

  10. The reality for many schools, where nowadays the majority of matriculating students are female, is that interest in participating in intercollegiate sports is typically higher among male students than among “co-eds.” Organizing athletic opportunities to reflect that fact will not satisfy those for whom nothing less than a strict budgetary split based on enrollment proportionality will do.

    My alma mater, which dropped varsity football in 1960, has had to ditch baseball and, more recently, a fine wrestling program in order to achieve Title IX compliance. The wrestling team raised funds for ten years to keep the sport going, but unless an equal amout of cash could be found to start a team for women of equal size, the administration wouldn’t let them do it. The National Wrestling Coaches’ Association tried to sue the Department of Education over the proportionality interpretation, but the suit was tossed on standing considerations.

    As for the “Iowa State” example above, my school is private, and shouldn’t have to meet some obligation to serve an “audience” the way a government institution would have to. Heck, private schools can still refuse to enroll one sex or the other, or has that been ruled illegal?

    Meanwhile, our state’s Giant Government University is the only one left with Division I football and wrestling, because for decades their athletic department was allowed to operate as a money-loser, subsidized at least in part by taxes, until they wised up and became competitive in the revenue sports. Now donations flood in, especially since one of our U.S. Senators, a millionaire alum of GGU, donated megabucks for a state-of-the-art basketball/hockey arena that bears his name. Somehow the naming of that barn isn’t considered a campaign ad. 🙂 Still, even they dropped baseball because of Title IX.

    What a stupid, stupid law.


  11. Does anyone else here think that college sports overshadows, uh… what’s that thing that colleges do again? …academics?

  12. The ultimate foolishness in Title IX proportionality enforcement is when a team raises is own funds to survive and is told that is unacceptable. At that point it’s really just the school’s name on a jersey.

    Gotta love the rule of lawyers!

  13. I’m with you, Rhywun. I like sports, but I’ve always thought that sports programs and academics don’t mix well.

  14. kevrob,

    To my knowledge, colleges that accept students who accept federally subsized loans/grants are not considered “private” by the courts. Very few colleges in this country are truly private.

  15. The major alternative to sports as a school-based extracurricular activity is the European sports club model. That might work in large cities, but smaller towns could find it difficult to replace the existing facilities – fields, gyms, tracks – found at present on school grounds with new, off-campus ones. There are the YMCAs/YWCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, Police Athletic League and Little League as examples of non-school sports organizations. Most of these are, subsidies aside, private groups, too. Imagine, if our public high schools abdicated in the competitive sports field, there might be less political support for the state education whole system. Many a school budget, bond issue or levy limit vote enabling wasteful spending has won through because the voters were convinced that a new gym or pool was needed, or that teams would be cut without increased funding. I don’t think this divorce is a realistic hope, though. In small town America the local public high school’s sporting events are a major community happening. In urban areas sport may be the only thing keeping the dropout rate among young males from being even worse than it is.

    I expect that many college presidents would see the task of fundraising without sports teams to brag on as a horrible alternative to today’s flawed, hypocritical system.


  16. MP:

    Your description of the Fed’s opinion on their regulations’ reach is accurate. However, a private school that recruits students nationally cannot be seen to have a particular legal obligation to mirror the population of the state where it is located.


  17. Of course the survey doesn’t mean anything, because when a woman says “no” she really means “yes”, right? 😉

    No, no, no! Because all sex is rape, when a woman says “yes”, she really means “no.”

    You phallic oppressor, you.

  18. The major alternative to sports as a school-based extracurricular activity is the European sports club model.

    I was thinking the same thing – having seen it in action in West (!) Germany. And you’re probably right that that model won’t work in an America that has mostly dispensed with the notion of a “community center” other than the local mall. On second thought, most malls have lots of extra parking space in the edges that could be converted to fields and gymnasiums….

  19. RC – I try to oppress women with my phallus all the time, har har. 🙂

    Here in Phoenix, our HS hockey teams are fairly private, as far as I know. There aren’t any HS in Phoenix that would have the resources to build their own ice rink and maintain it. (It’s hot here, you know.)

  20. If I had the checkbook of a George Soros and was looking for charities to support, private clubs for afterschool activities, sporting or otherwise, would be high on my list. Here in Wisconsin we have the tradition of “the lighted schoolhouse” – the government schools as afterhours centers for adult education and all-ages recreation. Milwaukee Public Schools mails everyone a course catalog at least twice a year with adult-ed offerings that range from learning how to tune your car to ballroom dancing to swimming lessons. Much of it duplicates efforts in the non-profit and for-profit private sector, and I’m not sure the nominal fees charged cover the expense. I’d prefer it if these tasks could be offloaded to non-governmental organizations. If some of them wanted to rent classrooms after school was done for the day that would be hoopy, at least until we privatize the schools. 🙂 The Lighted Schoolhouse was a big deal during the Progressive era. Like mandatory universal schooling it played a part in Americanizing immigrants, much as the settlement houses and fraternal organizations (Sons of Italy, Ancient Order of Hibernians) did. Many New Americans learned their English and enough history and civics to pass their citizenship tests.

    We have at least two private non-profit community groups with huge memberships in our area. One is the Milwaukee Kickers soccer group, which enrolls thousands of little metric football players, and has their own complex of playing fields. Another is the Latino community’s United Community Center, which trains people for jobs, operates day care, runs a private school that qualifies for the Choice program and a host of other services. Some of those programs get government funds, in the form of grants and contracting. How does one say “little platoons” en espa?ol?

    What’s in it for for libertarians in this approach? I’d hope that, spending more time in activities organized by private community groups, and less time in those run by units of the state, the average joe would be less likely to leap to the conclusion that the state should be called on to solve every problem.

    It’s a theory.


  21. joe: Um, no. According the NWLC, asking one subset of women their opinions isn’t the most accurate way to determine what the larger set wants.

    Um, no. According to NWLC, they should rely upon a smaller, more self-selected subset. (but a small, self-selected subset that’s more likely to reflect the position of NWLC).

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