Celebrating 50 years of Title IX at CWRU


Courtesy of CWRU

The 50th anniversary of Title IX, which protects people from sex-based discrimination in educational programs and activities, was celebrated at CWRU on Feb. 3.

Grace Johnson, News Editor

Case Western Reserve University Department of Physical Education and Athletics celebrated the 50-year anniversary of Title IX on Friday, Feb. 3. Title IX has had far-reaching effects on various institutions at CWRU, most notably on its athletic departments and residence life.  

This landmark decision was ratified under President Richard M. Nixon on June 23, 1972 as a section of the Civil Rights Act (CRA). It created the precedent that, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” This particularly affected school-sanctioned athletics at both the secondary and university levels across the country where there were unequal opportunities for those identifying as women. 

Residential Community Director (RCD) of the Murray Hill Residential Community Meghan Lechner says that, “We are truly seeing a ripple effect into women’s professional sports, funding and viewership. From a collegiate perspective, Title IX has provided the opportunity for more women to afford the realities of a university experience through athletic scholarships along with academic support and health and wellness opportunities.”

CWRU was not immune to the effects of Title IX. The first women’s sports team, volleyball, was not established until 1971. The second recognized women’s sport was basketball who played their first game in Jan. 1972. Since Title IX was passed, six additional women’s sports teams have been established at CWRU, with over 150 female student athletes receiving all-America honors. 

In December 2022, the CWRU women’s soccer team was the runner-up at the NCAA Division III championship. The success of this and other female collegiate teams would probably not have been possible without the passing of Title IX. 

Title IX covers more than just equal protection in athletics on the basis of sex and gender. While its effect has been significant in sports at CWRU, its influence on the Student Code of Conduct in the Office of Equity has also been profound. Title IX also applies to sexual harassment in a variety of forms and requires academic institutions to follow certain steps to investigate sexual misconduct allegations. 

For example, Title IX has helped to create the title of “mandated reporters” which are people that are required to inform the Title IX Coordinator if they hear of possible sexual misconduct. Mandated reporters include resident assistants, professors and orientation leaders, as well as people who are employed by or volunteer for the university. While this can be a huge responsibility, mandated reporters are integral for facilitating a safe environment, as they help ensure that people who violate the Title IX mandates are held accountable. Lechner, who is a mandated reporter herself, emphasizes the goal of Title IX is “that universities and perpetrators be held responsible for violence against … students.” 

However, she also acknowledges that these policies are not always straightforward: “The largest area of confusion I have seen in this realm is in the communication between universities and students regarding Title IX reporting.” In other words, she believes that the process for reporting a Title IX violation is not very clear and that many students fear reporting and feel “left in the dark” about the steps that are taken after a report is filed. However, she is a strong proponent for this system. “What I, and other administrators, would love for students to understand is that this process does work and that due-process is an essential element in enacting genuine change.”

So, as we celebrate the anniversary of this groundbreaking legislation, we must remember that it was passed for a reason—to hold those accountable for their violations of other peoples’ rights and to allow a pathway for everyone to continue safely and equally participate in educational, athletic and social activities.