W&L marks 45th anniversary of Title IX in week-long event

University groups celebrated the progress achieved by female athletes since the monumental legislation was passed in 1972

Maggie Barker

Several organizations at W&L took the last week of January to recognize the 45th anniversary of the Title IX legislation, which promoted equality for male and female athletes.

Most notably, former professional soccer player Mia Hamm spoke on campus on Feb. 1 about how the anti-discrimination law paved the way for her career. The event in Evans Dining Hall was sponsored by Contact Committee as the bookend to the week of festivities. Professor Toni Locy, head of the journalism and mass communications department, interviewed the two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion.

Professor Sarah Horowitz, curricular head of the women, gender and sexuality studies (WGSS) program, said it was an easy decision for the program to get involved in the week’s events.

“We were excited about all these opportunities and talking about the importance of gender equity and education and bringing Mia Hamm on campus,” said Horowitz. “We wanted to celebrate the anniversary of Title IX which is a landmark federal law that ensures that no matter what the student’s gender is they have equal access to educational opportunities.”

The WGSS program kick started the week-long celebration of Title IX with a Sunday night showing of Battle of the Sexes, a movie starring Emma Stone and Steve Carrell in which the plot loosely follows the famed 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The showing was also sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs.

On Tuesday, the WGSS program hosted a poetry reading and discussion focused on themes related to Title IX with W&L Professor Ellen Mayock and VMI Professor Stacey Vargas.

Later that night, the women’s basketball team hosted Randolph College in the Warner Center. The game celebrated National Girls & Women in Sports Day.

On Wednesday night, there was a screening of A Sporting Chance, a documentary about the passage of Title IX in 1972 that was developed by the NCAA for the 40th anniversary of the law. Director of Athletics Jan Hathorn, Professor Melina Bell and University Title IX Coordinator Lauren Kozak led a panel discussion afterward.

Kozak said the federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination revolutionized education.

“If you look at before and after statistics, women couldn’t attend a lot of schools, they couldn’t be in certain majors, and there weren’t sports teams for women on any sustained basis,” she said. “Title IX forbid discrimination on the basis of sex, and that wasn’t forbidden before.”