Demand IX Student Fellows Urge Campus Leaders to Rededicate Themselves to Title IX

A few of the students from the spring Demand IX fellowship.

Title IX—landmark legislation that prohibits discrimination in school or education programs that receive funding from the federal government—reads: “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.” 

Members of Women X’s Demand IX fellowship broke down this language recently in an open letter: “What most will find interesting is that the words ‘women’ or ‘female’ are not included in the legislation—at all,” they explained to campus leaders across the U.S.

“Similarly, the word ‘sport’ is not included in the phrase—at all,” they continued. “And likewise, the words ‘sexual assault’ or ‘sexual harassment’ are not included in it either. At its fundamental core, Title IX protects the inclusion, the resources, and the treatment of any sex within all federally-funded activities and institutions. And so, we beg of you to understand that Title IX is not just about sexual misconduct; it is not just about allocations to women; it is not just about collegiate athletics; it is about the equal treatment and access to any and all federally assisted programs for any and all sexes.”

The fellows’ letter calls on university leaders to promote diversity, inclusion and accessibility on college campuses (DEIA). It also urges the NCAA, school administrators, boards of trustees, student athletes and parents to get involved in the fight to fully realize Title IX’s promises. 

 Focused on Title IX education and advocacy, Women X’s cross-campus fellowship has engaged 34 diverse women college students from 20 campuses across 10 U.S. states. The fellowship is made possible through a partnership with Demand IX campaign, founded by Deborah Larkin, who partnered with the Women’s Sports Foundation, National Women Law Center (NWLC) and Billie Jean King Enterprises on this initiative in 2022. 

For 12 weeks, the fellowship leads a select number of undergraduate students across college campuses. Those accepted into the cohort receive a scholarship covering the full cost of tuition, along with a stipend. Fellows spend the semester learning about Title IX with other student leaders across the country and collaborating on initiatives to spread its message on their campus.

“This fellowship was an important way for WomenX to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX—encouraging Gen Z to learn about it and further its mission,” said Women X’s COO, Tiffany Bullock. “Our goal is to inspire these college women to become leaders on campus who advocate for gender equity in the spirit of this landmark legislation. Our fellows are athletes and non-athletes who seek to build cross-campus networks of advocates and who wish to better relationships with administrators on their own campuses.”

The ultimate goal of the fellowship is to “make Title IX relevant for Gen Z,” said founder and CEO, Mary Ciampa, whose board and advisory roles at the Boston Museum of Science and Berklee College of Music inspired her to tackle the growing number of barriers to accessing a quality education faced by women. 

Tiffany Bullock (left) is the COO of Women X. Mary Ciampa (right) is the founder and CEO. (Courtesy)

Fellows describe the program as an intellectually challenging community where they can hone and refine their advocacy for gender equality in college classrooms and sports fields. Previous members have worked to address Title IX enforcement issues across all of their campuses, such as a lack of information around the civil rights legislation’s protections. 

The open letter to university constituents is one example of the fellows’ Title IX advocacy projects. “We have made strides these last 50 years, but Title IX’s relevance is only as strong as the next generation’s commitment to it,” according to the letter, which seeks to bring awareness to the remaining importance of Title IX, 51 years after being signed into law.

“We, as an intercampus coalition, call on all campus constituents to rededicate themselves to the mission of Title IX. In the words of the iconic Maya Angelou: ‘Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else.’ We call on those involved with higher education to have the courage to stand up and fight for Title IX.”

Applications are currently open for upcoming cohorts of the Women X Demand IX fellowship, and the fellowship continues to expand.

  • The fall semester fellowship begins. The application deadline is rolling until Sept. 8, 2023. 
  • Applicants can also apply for the spring 2024 semester; applications are open until Jan. 5, 2024. 

Check out FAQs or get in touch with Women X via their website.

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Alecia Hodges is an editorial intern for Ms.; she is a current law student whose writings focus on the theoretical and juridical aspects of both anti-Blackness and misogyny in public policy, as well as political and popular culture.