As this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of Title IX legislation, the Women’s Sports Foundation continues to celebrate its efforts toward achieving gender equity in all sports. These efforts are done through advocacy, research and education.
Ellen Staurowsky ’79, professor in the Department of Media Arts, Sciences, and Studies, is teaching a class on Title IX in honor of the anniversary. The class connects with a nationwide speaker series, having attendees and speakers from all over the country.
Lindsey Darvin, an assistant professor at Syracuse University and one of the speakers from the series, said Title IX is a federal policy that seeks to drive equality. The policy ensures that no person is excluded or discriminated against for any gender identity. There are several types of protections that fall under Title IX, including equality in sports at the high school and collegiate level.
Staurowsky said the sports media program at Ithaca College has had classes and events that focus on gender equity and educating the population before. When she first began as a professor at the college in 1992, she taught gender equity.
“I think that many of these topics are things that our students, in general, have not really thought about, and our men, in particular, really have not thought [about],” Staurowsky said. “The students seem to indicate that the panels were meaningful for them.”
Staurowsky said she has three goals for the class. First, she hopes her students feel like they have been involved in a practical way where they begin to think about things differently. Secondly, she hopes that as her students move forward as leaders in their professional fields, they can bring what they learned, make changes and guide others. Lastly, Staurowsky said that at the completion of the class there will be a podcast and educational website.
“I think the main goal for the class is just to educate people because no one really knows what Title IX covers,” junior Jess Moskowitz, a member of the class, said. “What I think is really interesting about this class is it does focus on minoritized communities, on female athletes and it’s [a] majority male class, which is really interesting.”
Moskowitz said the class began by reviewing the history of Title IX legislation and the key players who fought for and against it. Every class starts by discussing major headlines in the news related to the topics discussed in class.
“It’s not like a normal class in the sense that we’re not having tests and papers,” Moskowitz said. “We’re working on producing a podcast the whole semester. The way she does her classes is she really wants the material that you learn to go beyond just the four walls of the classroom.”
At the end of the semester, the class will have produced a series of podcasts set to launch in May. The course is working with Gavin Berger ’21 to publish the podcast and website to a large audience. Staurowsky said she hopes that in the future, there will continue to be students who will help run the podcast alongside her.
“With the podcast, we hope that we [can] pick up a lot of listeners from the general public and especially from the college and university sector when we launch it in May,” Staurowsky said. “We’ve got big aspirations for this.”
Staurowsky has hosted three panels so far with a different topic for each session. Those topics include the progress Title IX has made, the reproductive rights women have under Title IX and the inclusion of transgender athletes in sports. The series features speakers with backgrounds and experience in sport studies and women’s education.
Staurowsky said it was vital for her to become a part of the national conversation, which is how the speaker series integrated into the curriculum. The podcast and speaker series is being done to gain traction for this topic and spread knowledge.
“It was intended to be shared with the public, and we have had people all over the country who’ve been tuning in for our session,” Staurowsky said. “We’ve gotten anywhere from 80 to 100 people with some of our programs so far.”
The speaker series is incorporated into the already existing class schedule. Junior Sarah DeVito, a member of the class, said that when there is a speaker event, the students are asked to attend that in a trade-off of attending class time.
“A lot of times, we’ll watch the speaker series in replacement for the class for the day, then we’ll come in and talk a lot about the things that we’ve covered,” DeVito said. ”We’ll all get to kind of share our opinions on what we thought and kind of discuss the topic further.”
Staurowsky said she aims to educate and draw others into learning more on this topic as it applies to the majority. The class and speaker series will live on an online platform intended to offer more education to individuals.
“We’ll have the podcast on there,” Staurowsky said. “We’ll have all of the panels from the speaker series, and then we’ll have information to share as well.”
Staurowsky said her mission is to educate the population. A lack of knowledge has been passed down the line from generation to generation. Darvin said it is important to spread knowledge to ensure everyone understands Title IX because it goes deeper than many believe.
“I’m noticing that as we kind of go down the line, we’re not doing as good of a job of educating young girls and women in terms of what Title IX is and the types of protections they have based on Title IX policy,” Darvin said. “It made it sort of more important to me to spread this knowledge and be sure that folks understand what this policy is.”