In her Jan. 30 column "With Panel A Number of Concerns," Sally Jenkins suggests that the Department of Education's Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, formed to evaluate the current enforcement of Title IX and make suggestions for change, is biased. By biased, Jenkins means willing to hear differing opinions and consider changes. The unbiased members and commentators (Jenkins highlights Donna Lopiano, executive director of the Women's Sports Foundation and Julie Foudy, the former captain of the U.S. women's World Cup soccer team -- a true cross-section of opinion) are upset because the commission heard from (and dare I say actually listened to) people whose opinions they do not like. I am one of those people. And I admit that Jenkins is not the first to attack my qualifications, or me personally. Ironically, Lopiano was the first to board that train. You see, I first learned about Title IX while volunteering at the Women's Sports Foundation for a month during college. When I appeared before the commission in late August, I mentioned this fact, in passing. Apparently, some people heard the word intern, rather than the word volunteer. This caused Lopiano to contact the commission's co-chairs to request a public correction. She wrote: "This is significant to the Foundation in that we pride ourselves on the quality of our interns, their training and knowledge. I don't want the Foundation's reputation for fact-based statements and accuracy to be tarnished, given the legally incorrect statements on 'quotas' that Leahy made to the Commission."
My "legally incorrect" statement was calling the proportionality test (not Title IX generally) a quota. Hmm. Quota: A number or percentage, especially of people, constituting a required or targeted minimum. I must confess that it gave me great pleasure when the commission staff provided Lopiano with a copy of the transcripts which recorded my careful use of the word volunteer.
What's disturbing is Lopiano's assumption that a real intern would never think critically about Title IX. I thought the benefits of athletic participation (and the whole reason for Title IX in the first place) included self-esteem, physical health, leadership and intelligence. Is it impossible to conceive that after years of research, reflection and education, a real intern would not be even partially critical of Title IX enforcement? Is the Women's Sports Foundation training intelligent, healthy leaders or drones?
This leads me back to Jenkins's uninformed attack on my credentials. I did not simply write a paper on Title IX when I was an undergrad. I spent a year doing extensive research on the subject -- reading the entire legislative history, every written judicial opinion, and all of the administrative regulations -- and then wrote a 100-page thesis. Following graduation, I revised and updated my thesis and it was published in the Journal of College and University Law. And then I went to law school. So forgive me if I'm offended at Ms. Jenkins's flip comment about my writing a paper.
-- Crista Leahy Morrow