Amherst Magazine: Summer 2012

Not Just Sports

In a mere 37 words, Title IX outlaws gender discrimination in all areas of education.

On June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX into law. The federal legislation reads as follows:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”



A 1998 women’s basketball game

Title IX is generally associated with one thing—gender equity in sports—but, in fact, its wording makes no reference to athletics. “It’s really about equity at large in educational institutions,” says Liza Nascembeni, assistant dean of students.

Every U.S. college is required to have a Title IX coordinator. This person oversees efforts to prevent, investigate and respond to claims of sexual harassment, sexual assault and gender discrimination on campus. At Amherst, the Title IX coordinator for the 2012–13 academic year is Molly Mead, director of the Center for Community Engagement. Mead has four deputy coordinators: Nascembeni, who oversees compliance matters involving students; Athletic Director Suzanne Coffey, who oversees those involving sports; Dean of the Faculty Gregory Call, the point person for compliance issues involving faculty; and Human Resources Director Maria-Judith Rodriguez, who is in charge of compliance related to staff, administration and visitors.  These officers not only respond to potential problems but also take proactive steps—for example, organizing sessions that educate students about sexual assault and offering training programs about gender discrimination in the classroom and the workplace. 

Photo from Amherst College Archives