A panel was held on Tuesday, April 1, at Stony Brook to discuss Title IX and how it is applied to life at Stony Brook University. The two featured attendants were Raul Sanchez, the senior director for Title IX and risk management at the university, and Wendy Murphy, a professor and former prosecutor who specializes in Title IX.
Hired in September, Sanchez is the first ever to hold the position at Stony Brook. The position, which reports directly to President Stanley, serves as the designated agent to manage all Title IX compliance efforts.
Murphy is a distinguished Boston law professor who specializes in Title IX and campus sexual harassment/sexual assaults. She commended Stony Brook and Sanchez for having an office devoted to the issue, something that most universities don’t have.
As part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.
The official law is 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 education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
Although most people think of Title IX in terms of sports, it also encompasses sexual harassment and any other discrimination against a specific gender.
Murphy spoke about how most people do not categorize sexual harassment or gender discrimination with racial or religious discrimination. She explained that Title IX has been misconceived as only for sports.
“Imagine saying to a group of Jewish students, that felt some form of anti-Semitism on campus, ‘We care about that and we’re going to give you your own Jewish basketball team,” said Murphy.
She stressed the fact that discrimination against women needs to be seen as a civil rights issue, and therefore, warrant similar punishments. She doesn’t think there should be a difference between violence against anyone and violence against women.
One eye-opening idea that Murphy claimed is that in today’s society, a woman is more likely to be raped in a college campus setting than out in the real world.
After observing behavior at Harvard University, Murphy opened a case in the early 2000s against the Ivy league school for its lack of Title IX compliance on the behalf of all women. Since Murphy did not submit any individuals, this became a landmark case, leading to many similar broad, or anonymous, cases across the country.
Sanchez oversees the Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action. He explained that in the last decade the federal and state governments have added influence on Title IX compliance. This extra influence has created new positions like his.
Sanchez stressed that reporting discrimination issues are a huge part of fixing them.
“Hear it, say it, report it,” is Sanchez and his office’s slogan. He said that many people who are being discriminated against do not know where or who to talk to about these issues. But he assured the audience that his office will help in whatever way possible.
Daniel Marzano, a senior and health science major, like many others, did not know that Title IX included more than just sports.
“It’s pretty shocking that that’s the overlooked section of the law,” said Marzano. “You would think it would be the other way around.”
Marzano explained that he’s familiar with Title IX because the law has partly stopped accomplished club sports teams like Stony Brook Ice Hockey from becoming varsity, university-funded, sports teams at the university.