Fifty years ago, Congress enacted Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. “What is Title IX?” Some equate it with athletics and bringing a balance of female participation in college sports. Others recognize Title IX in protecting against harassment. And while Title IX does all of that, there is so much more behind the spirit and rule of this law that changed the face of so much in higher education across the nation, including at Clemson University.
Beginning on June 23 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of its passage and throughout the upcoming academic year, Clemson University will celebrate Title IX throughout campus and across academic and athletic programs. Special events are being planned over the next year starting with a kickoff celebration and continuing with a women’s leadership summit, special tailgates during the 2022 football season and more events in 2023. In 2025, Clemson will celebrate its own 50th anniversary of the varsity debut of the women’s basketball, swimming, fencing and tennis teams, which all began in 1975.
Amid the celebration, Alesia Smith and the University’s Title IX 50th anniversary committee are making a point to highlight all the law has brought to higher education institutions in the last half-century. But, more than that, she hopes we realize why Title IX remains important.
“There is no doubt people recognize Title IX and have a better idea of what it does and who it helps. Just the fact that we are having a celebration and rolling out new initiatives speaks volumes,” Smith said. “But so much of that has only happened in the last decade or so. There is still so much left to do.”
Smith says while Title IX is still necessary, she is encouraged that we can all get to a place where we can treat one another with respect and care. And when she sees the support given by administrators and decision-makers at Clemson, she knows the work she, her office and the committee does is welcomed and appreciated.
The 1975 introduction of the women’s basketball, swimming, tennis and fencing programs paved the way for all the women’s athletic programs the University has now, including soccer, track and field, volleyball, golf, cross country, softball, and the recently-added lacrosse and gymnastics teams.
“Title IX, without a doubt, is among the most impactful elements to the growth of women’s athletics here,” says Jordy Kirr, assistant athletic director for personnel engagement and development at Clemson and member of the University’s Title IX 50th anniversary committee. “We want to celebrate the history of that moment while focusing on the bright future and expansion of women’s sports thanks to it.”
That future includes a new $27.5 million sports facility being built along the lake that will house gymnastics, rowing, lacrosse and more. It’s also programs like POWER, the recently announced women’s leadership academy that focuses on professional presence, community and experiential learning for women student-athletes.
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