Posted:October 14, 2022
“I could talk for days about Title IX. I’m passionate about it. I have a lot of drive to see it succeed.”
Dr. Jenn Rassett, director of Student Life, is helping the College Community understand the importance of this ground-breaking legislation, especially now, during the 50thanniversary of the legislation. (When legislators were not paying close attention, Title IX was sneaked into a bill, which President Nixon later signed into law in 1972.)
“It’s been 50 years and it’s amazing when you think of the history—I encourage everyone to watch the ESPN series, ’37 words’, to understand the history behind Title IX,” Jenn says. “This fall, we’ve been having several ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions on campus to promote knowledge and understanding of Title IX.”
She adds, “Because of the silos within the Title IX legislation (which encompass athletics, gender identity, sexual offenses, and pregnant and parenting students), people tend to forget that the legislation is about gender equity as a whole. It means that no one should be discriminated against or denied opportunities because of their gender, no matter where their gender falls on the spectrum,” Jenn notes. “Enacting Title IX legislation does not mean cutting men’s athletics—it’s making sure that opportunities exist for everyone—that’s what Title IX is about.”
Jenn’s PhD dissertation involved researching and writing about Title IX, and she examined how female student athletes (at 2-year colleges) were recruited and retained.
“It’s fascinating how we have made giant strides, but we still have work to do,” Jenn says. “Here’s an example: Opportunities are still statistically disproportionate when it comes to women athletic directors—and mirrors are important. We need to continue to chip away at discrimination in sports.
“And, in the area of sexual offenses, the ‘Me Too’ movement has brought that problem to light, but how are we transforming the culture away from victim-blaming?”
While facing some of the many issues encompassing Title IX may be uncomfortable, this is where Jenn finds the greatest opportunity for growth. “If we want to evolve, we need to talk about it and change,” Jenn notes. “As (late) Senator Paul Wellstone once said, ‘We all do better when we ALL do better.”
“For example, in the area of accommodating pregnant students and student parents, we are creating a safe space at our College, where our mission and focus is on student success. Looking at Title IX from all these perspectives makes sense. We want to do whatever we can to ensure our students are successful in their academic and personal lives and careers.”
At Century College, the Dean of Students is the Title IX Coordinator, while both Jenn and Rosa Rodriguez, director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, serve as Deputy Coordinators. Jenn works with students, and Rosa works with employees. Other members of the team include Aarin Distad, Colleen Cahill and Corey Young.
“We also work closely with our Security team—Jason Philipp and Nate Mens—and our work overlaps with what they are doing to ensure a safe campus environment for our Community. The structure of our team works well at the College.”