The last in a series of public hearings on Title IX, the 1972 law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education, took place yesterday and today in San Diego, California.
Attendees at the first day of the hearing packed the ballroom of a downtown San Diego hotel. Over 40 young feminists from UC San Diego’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance provided a young women’s presence, both at the hearing and at a rally during the lunch break. “This is not only about equal opportunity for women in sports,” stated Michelle Wood, West Coast Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Campus Program. “This is first and foremost about achieving equality for women. We must preserve Title IX to ensure equality for women and girls in all areas of life.”
Speakers at the hearings included Donna Lopiano, executive director of the Women’s Sports Foundation, and Geena Davis, actor and amateur archer. Both spoke about the importance of girls’ sports and gender equity in education and athletics. Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College, argued that the problem was not Title IX, but poor financial management in major college football and men’s basketball programs, according to the Union-Tribune. Football gets a third of all funding for athletics at major colleges and universities, according to TheSanDiegoChannel.com. His solution is to reduce the number of football scholarships and impose some limits on spending, especially when it comes to salaries for coaches, which can exceed $1 million.
The hearings held by President Bush’s Commission on Opportunity in Athletics are ostensibly meant to hear public comment on how Title IX implementation has affected women’s and men’s sports. The Feminist Majority Foundation and other leading women’s groups argue that the commission is the newest attempt to weaken the landmark federal law. In fact, in an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Donna Lopiano, executive director of the Women’s Sports Foundation called the Commission a “fiasco” and a “set-up.” According to Lopiano, the commission is stacked with representatives from NCAA Division I schoolsÑmany of which are still not in compliance with Title IX after 30 years. The Commission is expected to release a report on their findings in January.