Critique of Title IX and Universities
In their Teaching Sociology article, Amina Zarrugh and colleagues assess the effectiveness of students learning about Title IX by exploring of their own university’s enforcement of the policy. This study was conducted in three phases – an undergraduate class focused on Title IX, focus groups composed mostly of women participants aimed to understand what they gained from the class, and a follow-up survey with members of the class. In the beginning of the undergraduate class, students were asked what they knew prior to the class about the Title IX policy. Answers ranged from general knowledge around gender discrimination to knowing little about the policy. Each week, the class was led by student discussion leaders. The focus groups revealed the student-led structure of the class promoted student interaction and critique of the policy.
The authors discovered that students found Title IX to be “complex” and difficult to understand. Because of this, it was hard for the students to access Title IX resources in general. Additionally, students found the disconnect between narrow state law and broad Title IX policy definitions of sexual assault to be problematic. Students discovered the discrepancies between expected sexual assault statistics on college campuses based on national data and the number of those actually reported by their own campus. They began to understand Title IX as a policy to protect the institution from liability of sexual assault. The students revealed that through exploring Title IX, they better understood the broader impact of gender-based violence and expressed a desire to take their new understanding “beyond [them]selves” to spread knowledge and inspire action regarding Title IX within the campus and the local community. The authors end the article by arguing that the campus-based teaching approach is a useful tool and could be used to interrogate other examples of inequality.
Katelyn Foltz is a first-year doctoral student in sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her research focuses on the intersections between masculinity, race, activism, and sport.