Thursday, May 10, 2012

Title IX at 40: A Day with a Legendary Line-up

The Title IX at 40 Conference at the University of Michigan continued with a vibrant conversation between scholars, Olympic athletes, administrators and attorneys.

Amy Berman from the Office for Civil Rights launched today’s conversation with her insights into Title IX related issues. She began by emphasizing that Title IX, though usually associated with sports, has had tremendous impact on other areas in education such as offering protection against harassment, bullying and sexual violence.

These issues and incidents, however, often remain unreported. Berman pointed out that students need to be provided information on who to contact when such instances occur so that they get reported.

“These things cannot get lost,” Berman said.

The panels throughout the day addressed various issues ranging from Title IX’s relationship to health benefits and injuries to employment and workplace discrimination. A number of Gold Medalist Olympic Athletes were participating in the panels including figure skater Sarah Hughes and softball player Jennie Finch.

Jim Delaney, Big Ten Commissioner, spoke about the Big Ten Conference’s Gender Equity Action Plan and the progress the Big Ten has made in regards to opportunities and funding for intercollegiate athletics, particularly highlighting the points where the Conference demonstrated equitable treatment of men and women.

The day was closed by the legendary Dr. Bernice B. Sandler, frequently referred to as the “godmother of Title IX,” who shared the stories about the efforts it took to bring Title IX into legislation. Her journey began when she was denied a job because she was “too strong for a woman.”

Dr. Sandler’s stories of discrimination were absurd to the point that the audience members responded with a chuckle; yet the issues are still quite prevalent and Dr. Sandler called for the younger generations to continue gathering, educating, and organizing around Title IX and gender equity.

The conference concludes tomorrow with a number of panels, two of which feature Penn State scholars. John Cheslock from the Center for the Study of Higher Education will be speaking about issues of sustainability in intercollegiate athletics.

The College of Communications will be represented by Marie Hardin, Associate Director for Research at the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, who will serve on the Journalists, Media and Title IX panel. Joining her will be Nicole LaVoi from the University of Minnesota and Joanne C. Gerstner, a journalist from and The New York Times.

The program begins on Friday at 8:30am (ET). Tune in on twitter @CurleyCenter #TitleIXConference!

--Dunja Antunovic

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