Framing Title IX controversies: New or old?

The media and anti-Title IX pundits are fond of framing controversies around campus sexual assaults as a relatively “new” phenomenon that started in 2011. Too often that leaves out the 45-year history of schools and colleges unfairly ignoring, obstinately defying, and only reluctantly complying with Title IX’s mandate to fight sex discrimination in education. A case in point: The Chronicle of Higher Education, which probably has the best and most extensive Title IX coverage of any media outlet over the years, published a lengthy and very interesting article (available to subscribers), “One Letter Changed Colleges’ Response to Rape Cases.” The article described events since the Office for Civil […]

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Title IX case bridged black, women’s movements

Pamela Price entered Yale University in 1974 as a black nationalist with a huge Angela Davis-style afro. She’d never heard of Title IX and wasn’t attracted to any of the women’s organizations on campus. She put her heart and energies into the black community and working for civil rights. By the time she graduated in 1978, though, Price was one of a handful of women at the heart of a pivotal legal case that established for the first time that Title IX covers sexual harassment — Alexander v. Yale. Her involvement bridged the black rights and women’s rights movements on campus. Thus began a […]

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National Lawyers Guild honors Title IX shero

Like many of today’s undergraduates who have spoken up about sexual assaults and harassment on college campuses, a sense of outrage drove Pamela Y. Price  to complain to Yale University officials after a male faculty member offered her an A grade in exchange for sex. Implying, of course, that he’d lower her grade if she didn’t submit. Her final grade: C. But that was in 1976, and the grade wasn’t the end of the story. Price and her allies filed the first legal complaint against sexual harassment under Title IX. Their years-long legal battle — known initially as Alexander v. Yale before the court reduced it […]

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“Hunting Ground” documentary in crosshairs of history

The San Francisco Chronicle published my op-ed article about women finding their voices to speak out against sexual assault and harassment on campuses. It’s online now; look for it in print on Thursday, Nov. 19. This Sunday, Nov. 22, CNN will televise the documentary “The Hunting Ground” about the handling of sexual assaults at colleges and universities. You can watch or record it at 5 p.m. Pacific time (8 p.m. Eastern), followed by a discussion panel featuring the filmmakers and others. Director Kirby Dick and Producer Amy Ziering (creators of the Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated documentary “The Invisible War”) took some […]

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Lack of Title IX in K-12 schools adding to college rape crisis?

A third of 96 school districts in the San Francisco Bay Area that responded to requests for public information did not identify a Title IX coordinator in their district — something they are required to have by law. That law — Title IX — has been on the books for more than 43 years and is in headlines today because of mounting complaints about sexual assaults and harassment on college campuses. “What the heck is happening at K through 12,” and how is that contributing to this epidemic of sexual assaults in colleges, Noreen Farrell of Equal Rights Advocates wondered at a focus […]

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Uppity women changing UC Santa Barbara

A nearly 13-hour sit-in by female students and their supporters at the University of California, Santa Barbara produced promises of change from the administration, providing an example of how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go under Title IX. The sit-in happened just as I was watching the 1999 documentary A Hero for Daisy about a dramatic 1976 protest by female students at Yale University who stripped off their clothes in an administrator’s office to reveal “Title IX” or “IX” written in bold letters on their chests and backs. Their leader, Chris Ernst, then read a statement of grievances […]

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Students as sexual predators: the norm?

What do Title IX, the comedian Betsy Salkind, and the new film The Hunting Ground have in common? A historical thread that’s about to change one sorry aspect of U.S. society. Finally. I hope. The Hunting Ground opens in cities across the United States this week and offers the possibility of a fundamental cultural shift toward respecting that non-consensual sex is an assault even if it’s done by a peer, like a student with a student, and that schools must not hide, tolerate, or condone it. At least, I think that’s what the film may point toward. I plan to see […]

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Taking the mystery out of obtaining consent

I’m wondering how the new “affirmative consent” standard adopted by California in 2015 and by an increasing number of colleges around the country is working out so far. It basically says that a college student must obtain consent from an awake, sober person before having sex, or risk having that sex be considered an assault. It doesn’t sound too complicated to me, but some people seem to think so. Here’s an excellent explanation from blogger Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess, who brilliantly says, “If you’re still struggling, just imagine instead of initiating sex, you’re making them a cup of tea.” The rest is […]

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Fresno tied to Title IX over decades

Video: Bernice Sandler coaches Women’s Studies students and faculty who are trying to improve policies at the California State University, Fresno, in November 2014. People all over the United States have links to Title IX. I’m enjoying seeing the fingers of this important law poke up in some unexpected places as I research its history and today’s in-the-news developments. Among them: Fresno, California, which appears often enough that it serves as an example of nearly every phase of Title IX. For example, Frederick W. Ness was president of Fresno State College just before becoming president of the Association of American Colleges and […]

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