“No person in the United States, shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to any discrimination under any educational programs or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Thus states the preamble to Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972.
The issue regarding gender and Mount Vernon is deeper than having the administrators of GW lie or mislead the students who live on the Mount Vernon campus.
The first of many issues is an economic one: If Mount Vernon was having financial problems, how could anybody expect GW to maintain the status quo and turn a profit? People must have realized that something was going to change when GW acquired Mount Vernon.
The second issue is one of ambiguity: What is The George Washington University at Foxhall Road? I have a feeling administrators don’t have a concise definition. Supposedly, at the time of the acquisition, that particular campus was to remain an all-female campus.
Well, Mount Vernon students are eligible to register for classes on the Foggy Bottom campus. Foggy Bottom students, regardless of gender, are eligible to register for classes at Mount Vernon. Yet, Mount Vernon still wants to be considered an all-female campus.
To compound the issue, students at Mount Vernon want to be considered GW students first and Mount Vernon students second. How can that be? Each and every student that applied to the Mount Vernon campus specifically applied to an all-female campus. Why certain people feel that housing at Foggy Bottom is a right granted to Mount Vernon students is something I don’t understand. There are sentiments of, “We were told .” or “We were promised .” Unfortunately, I have not seen any direct evidence in The GW Hatchet that accuses any administrator of lying. Have people been misled? Quite likely. Was anybody lied to? No direct accusations have been made that any specific administrator has lied to any specific student.
The third issue is a matter of law. Any institution that receives federal funding of any kind is bound by Title IX. Title IX was originally created to provide women equal opportunities in the education sector. Yet, on the subtle side, Title IX also mandates equal opportunities for men. In this respect, the most glaring issue is that of housing.
Of the three cheapest single-resident housing options, all of them are available to women only. People have pointed out that these options are less expensive for a reason: They don’t have the extra luxuries that any coed hall has. That may be true, but Title IX requires that equal options be available to both sexes.
Was GW’s decision to allow Pelham Hall on the Mount Vernon campus to house men a slap to the women there? More than likely. Was it without reason? No. Was it inevitable? With previous all-male institutions such as the Citadel and the Virginia Military Institution required to admit females, I can’t reasonably see how Mount Vernon could have cheaper housing available only to women.
The issue of Mount Vernon and GW is one of ambiguity. At this point, we need to see a clear plan and clear policies. We also need people to be patient. We are still in a transition phase, and cooperation between administrators and students is a must if Mount Vernon is to become a highly successful campus.
-The writer is a freshman.