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June 26, 2022

Guest view: Celebrate Title IX

Many know how downtown restaurant Rosy’s at the Beach got its name, but few know about the role Title IX played in saving owner Rosy Bergin’s academic career at Santa Clara University.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the landmark civil rights federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions or programs receiving federal funds, celebrates its 50th anniversary on June 23.

Marian Sacco

This is Rosy’s story:

“Attending college was an expectation in my family, but because there were eight children, my father promised to pay only for the first year of college. I had my sights set on Santa Clara University (SCU), mostly because of the beautiful gym. I was accepted and jumped into the volleyball and basketball programs, where I excelled.

“The first year came and went, and my father held true to his word. I was now responsible for the tuition.”

Worried over how she would pay for her education, Rosy was happily surprised to learn about the passage of Title IX, which required the university to provide equal scholarship funding to female athletes. She was the first scholarship recipient for women’s volleyball at SCU. 

“The timing was perfect for me. Looking back on this small step, it is amazing how many women have been touched by this reform.”

To commemorate this important anniversary, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Morgan Hill Branch, requested the City Council to issue a proclamation at its June 15, meeting. It recognized Title IX’s positive impact in expanding opportunities for women and girls in sports and academic fields, and in improving protections for pregnant and parenting students in the 50 years since its enactment.

The Title IX Act states, in part:

“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.”

U.S. Representative Patsy Takemoto Mink, of Hawaii, was the sponsor and major author of Title IX. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1964, she was the first woman of color and the first Asian-American woman elected to Congress, and the first woman elected to Congress from Hawaii. For over four decades, Mink championed the rights of immigrants, minorities, women and children, and worked to eradicate the kind of discrimination she had faced in her own life.

Title IX was renamed the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in her honor after her death in 2002. In 2014, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

Although the impact of Title IX is known in athletics, it also includes gender equity provisions affecting admissions, academics and sexual harassment policies and discrimination based on pregnancy, and protects both staff and students. Every educational facility is required to have a Title IX coordinator, including Morgan Hill high schools. For local details, go to https://www.mhusd.org/departments/human-resources/title-ix-athletic-information.

Rosy Bergin is just one of the many women who have benefitted from the provisions of Title IX. In 1972, 30,000 women were competing in NCAA athletics, as opposed to 170,000 men participating the same year. In 2018-2019, out of 499,217 athletes, men made up 56% (279, 562) and women 44% (219, 655), narrowing the gap.

Fifty years ago, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 changed the face of education. It ushered in an era of enormous progress for girls and women from classrooms to playing fields, but advocates continue to fight efforts to weaken it. 

Join AAUW members as we honor five decades of advancing educational equity for all and engage where advocacy is still needed to achieve the full promise of Title IX.

Marian Sacco is the current President of AAUW Morgan Hill Branch and a 2005 Graduate of Leadership Morgan Hill.

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