Yesterday, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a series of recommendations on Title IX concerning the use of interest surveys as a viable compliance mechanism for schools. Here is a summary of the report’s recommendations:
1. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights commends the U.S. Department of Education for developing the student interest survey and for providing a rigorous yet practical means of complying with Title IX. It recommends that the Department’s Office for Civil Rights continue to encourage institutions to use the Model Survey as a method of complying with Title IX, rather than relying on mechanical compliance with proportional representation, which may result in unnecessary reduction of men’s athletic opportunities.
2. Since female students are fully capable of expressing interest in athletics, or lack thereof, advocates for particular views on Title IX compliance should not devalue or dismiss their perspectives.
3. Prong Three regulations should be revised to explicitly take into account the interest of both sexes rather than just the interest of the underrepresented sex. This would help to restore Title IX to its original goal of providing equal opportunity for individuals of both sexes.
4. The NCAA should reconsider its objection to the Model Survey and not discourage educational institutions from using student interest surveys or urge them to avoid their use, since college students are adults capable of assessing their own interest in sports.
In my view, these are all commonsense recommendations that, if put in use by schools, the Office of Civil Rights, and the NCAA, would do wonders to alleviate the perverse, rigid incentives created by Title IX’s main enforcement mechanism, proportionality (which, as the report notes, have resulted all too often in schools’ taking away opportunities from men, rather than creating opportunities for women, in the name of “equality”).
As I’ve tried to document on this blog and elsewhere, because of the reliance on proportionality’s gender quotas, Title IX in practice is little more than a numbers game that pays no regard to student interest. If we’re really concerned about providing equitable opportunities for student athletes, student interest should be taken into account. The Department of Education’s model interest survey is a useful mechanism to do just that, and it’s great to see a student-centered, rather than a quota-centered approach get support from the Commission
USA Today has more details here. Or you can check out the Commission’s full report here.