The Title IX Controversy at UR

During the Fall 2017 semester, 15 students took RHCS 412 Digital Memory & the Archive, a course exploring the intersections of history, memory, and archival research into UR history. The final project for this course was a team effort to use archival materials and other resources to craft a narrative related to the Race & Racism at the University of Richmond Project. Using archival materials, Katie Brennan, Elizabeth Mejía-Ricart, and Alexa Mendieta created a digital exhibit exploring the implementation of Title IX at the University of Richmond, and the lawsuit the university filed against the Department of Education in 1981 to avoid Title IX regulations. The university ultimately won this court case, stalling gender equity in college athletics at the University of Richmond and beyond. In their own words:

Compliance of Title IX guidelines was not fully finalized until the 2000s. As this exhibit has presented, while in the later years there was a conscious effort to strive towards an equal environment for female and male athletes, for many years before there was a conscious effort to deny and avoid to follow the regulation. Although it is important to highlight the progress made by the university in the recent decade, the magnitude of this progress cannot be fully appreciated unless we explore the setbacks and challenges faced by the university.

Kaitlin Brennan is a senior from Fairfield, Connecticut majoring in PPEL and Rhetoric & Communication Studies. Elizabeth Mejía-Ricart is from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She is a sophomore at the University of Richmond who is double-majoring in Economics and Mathematics. Alexa Mendieta is senior from Apache Junction, Arizona majoring in Rhetoric and Communication Studies.

Click here to check out their exhibit “The Title IX Controversy at UR” on memory.richmond.edu

This Week in the Archive: A History of Title IX Controversy

by Katie Brennan

Kaitlin Brennan is a senior from Fairfield, Connecticut majoring in PPEL and Rhetoric & Communication Studies, contributing to the Race & Racism Project through the Fall 2017 RHCS 412 Digital Memory & the Archive course. The Race & Racism project has helped her think about race not only on the University’s campus but in the city of Richmond in general. She has become especially interested in how the University has talked about race and gender equality to the public, including to its students.

In this post, I will focus on the December 3, 1981 article titled “Title IX Controversy Sparks Mortar  Board Forum,” found in the University of Richmond newspaper, The Collegian. Written by staff writer Pat Everett, the article described a Mortar Board sponsored forum held to discuss gender equality in University athletics. Everett indicated that, as a result of a pending court decision on whether the University’s athletic programs violated the sex equality law, students received few concrete answers from administrators. William Leftwich, Vice President for student affairs and Title IX coordinator, as well as Elaine Yeates, chairman of the Board of Trustees’ Athletic Committee, hesitated to answer questions from female athletes. Additionally, the athletic director, Chuck Boone, and the women’s athletic director, Ruth Goehring, gave few explicit answers due to additional pending litigation between the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.

Despite this, administrators still maintained that progress had been made in the women’s athletic department since 1979, citing examples such as an increase in scholarships available to women and athletic success of female teams, particularly the women’s basketball team. Female athletes at the forum pressed administrators on issues of inequalities in athletic budgets, treatment of athletes with respect to travel, hotels, transportation, restaurants, and recruiting, as well as the number of available scholarships. Peg Hogan, coach of the women’s swim team, suggested that everyday issues, such as lack of heating in the Keller Hall locker room and availability of practice times, depicted obvious gender inequalities. However, Goering suggested that women were not always worse off than men and, in some ways, might even have been better off: “We have a law that says we must be treated fairly, the men don’t.”

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