Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey recently introduced a bipartisan resolution calling for the Department of Education to withdraw its so-called Title IX 2005 “clarification” letter allowing interest surveys to be used as the only Title IX compliance test for college athletics. Title IX is the landmark 1972 federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs, including athletics.
The resolution comes in response to a report issued by the Department of Education defending its apparent policy change, claiming that colleges that used athletic interest surveys of women students as the only factor in determining Title IX compliance were just as likely to add teams for women as institutions that used two or more indicators of student interest, according to InsideHigherEd.com. Donna Lopiano, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation, called the fact that surveys count a lack of response as indicating no interest in athletics “a patently absurd contention that would be refuted by any researcher. A non-response is simply that and no meaning can be conferred to anyone’s failure to respond to a survey.”
“The Department of Education has created a gaping hole in Title IX standards by authorizing schools to deny new athletic opportunities based on surveys alone,” said Jocelyn Samuels, a vice president of the National Women’s Law Center. Sue Klein, Education Equity Director, Feminist Majority Foundation, suggests that “Instead of allowing inadequate research, the Department of Education has an opportunity to encourage accurate determinations of student athletic interest by urging continued use of appropriate multiple indicators and by recommending that the Title IX coordinators assume responsibility for obtaining and reporting this information on their campus websites”.