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Neena Chaudhry, Senior Counsel and Director of Equal Opportunities in Athletics

Neena Chaudhry is Senior Counsel and Director of Equal Opportunities in Athletics. Her work centers on litigation and advocacy to enforce and protect Title IX, primarily in the areas of athletics and sexual harassment. Prior to joining NWLC in 1997 as a Georgetown Women's Law and Public Policy Fellow, Neena clerked for the Honorable Michael Daly Hawkins of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She is a graduate of Yale Law School and the University of Maryland at College Park.

My Take

Alert the Media: Women Play Basketball Too

It’s March Madness time, but if you only read the papers, you wouldn’t know that women are even playing basketball. Last weekend when I was on vacation, I picked up a USA Today and in the entire sports section, there was not one mention of any women’s games. It’s as though the women’s tournament doesn’t exist. The NYT Public Editor’s Journal blog recently bemoaned the lack of coverage of the women’s tournament as well. In general, women receive only about 6-8% of the total newspaper sports coverage. Coverage on TV is also far from equal, but I suppose we should be grateful that ESPN is at least broadcasting most games in the women’s tournament.

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Unsafe Spaces: Sexual Harassment and Violence Are Plaguing our Nation’s Schools

Posted by Neena Chaudhry, Senior Counsel and Director of Equal Opportunities in Athletics | Posted on: November 21, 2013 at 12:11 pm

After leaving a homecoming dance, a high school girl was brutally raped. Other students photographed the rape but never reported it to police or school officials. Other girls in the school said they felt unsafe and avoided school activities. An employee at the school watched female students change clothes in the bathroom and inappropriately touched them. He was merely reprimanded and allowed to serve as the assistant girls’ basketball coach the next year. Middle school students in the district routinely faced physical and verbal harassment in front of teachers--including grabbing of breasts and genitals and calling male students “faggot” if they weren’t stereotypically masculine. The teachers often failed to report the harassment, let alone address it.

These incidents are actual findings from a recent Department of Education Title IX investigation of a school district in California. And they are not isolated examples, but reflect a widespread problem facing our nation’s schools and colleges. The pattern is all too familiar. A student is sexually assaulted or harassed, the school doesn’t respond appropriately, so the student faces escalating harassment, often both at school and online, and ends up feeling like she has no place to hide, no place where she is safe.

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ESPN Launches Title IX Series and Reminds Us that We Still Have a Long Way to Go

Yesterday ESPN aired the first of nine films celebrating Title IX in its “Nine for IX” series. The first one, “Venus Vs.,” is about Venus Williams’ fight for equal pay for women at Wimbledon. While it is a triumphant story in many ways, I couldn’t help but be struck (and frustrated), as I always am, at the slow pace of progress.

The fight for equal pay at Wimbledon, much like the fight for equal pay for women in general, has been going on for decades. In tennis, Billie Jean King started the effort that Venus helped bring to fruition.

Similarly, on the playing fields of our nation’s schools, the battle for gender equity rages on. Over forty years after Title IX was passed, girls are still not receiving equal chances to play or equal benefits when they do.

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Quinnipiac University Finally Agrees to Settle Title IX Case

After four years and five wins in the courts, the female volleyball players who sued Quinnipiac University for trying to eliminate their team and replace it with competitive cheerleading have secured a settlement that will help the entire women’s sports program. The settlement, announced today, requires Quinnipiac University to, among other things:

  • retain the volleyball team and all other women’s teams (the University added women’s golf and rugby recently and will help rugby evolve to the same competitive level as other sports);
  • increase scholarships for various women’s teams;
  • spend at least $5 million improving women’s athletic facilities, including locker rooms;
  • spend about $450,000 annually improving women’s coaching salaries, increasing coaches and academic support staff, and providing more athletic training services; and
  • allocate $175,000 during each of the next three years to a fund for additional improvements for women’s sports.

This case was very important in terms of setting precedent and providing guidance to schools across the country on several issues. First, there was a lot of fuzzy math that the court said was inappropriate. For example, the school double- and triple-counted students who were listed as members of the women’s cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track teams, even though many of the women did not receive genuine participation opportunities on more than one of the teams. The law allows multi-sport athletes to be counted for each sport they play, but only if they are really playing.

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Court Finds that Quinnipiac University Is Still Not In Compliance with Title IX

The District Court that first told Quinnipiac University it violated Title IX when it dropped the women’s volleyball team and claimed its cheer squad counted as a sport has once again told the university that it is not in compliance with the law. In an almost 100-page opinion issued yesterday, the Court instructed QU to continue to sponsor volleyball and said that QU needs to make more progress before the Court will let it out from under its watch. Maybe this time the University will finally get the message.

The latest decision comes after QU asked the court to lift the order instructing it to keep volleyball and devise a plan to provide equal opportunities for female students. QU claims that it has added golf and rugby for women and made changes to cheer that should make it count under Title IX; so they once again want to drop the volleyball team (they seem to have a volleyball vendetta).

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