50 Years of Title IX: Women of the 1990’s


GRANVILLE, Ohio (November 9, 2022) – This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a landmark piece of legislation for gender equity.

In recognition of the 50th year of Title IX, Denison University Athletics asks you to join us in our year-long celebration as we recognize and pay tribute to the impact the women of this university have had on the athletic department.

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On the ninth of each month from July 2022 to May 2023, Denison Athletics will highlight various female pioneers, former student-athletes, current student-athletes and coaches highlighting their impact on Denison Athletics and their thoughts on Title IX’s impact on their lives.

Next up, we have the female student-athletes who competed at Denison during the 1990’s.

anne-moelkAnne Moelk ’92

Anne Moelk played both lacrosse and field hockey for the Big Red. She was a four-year letterwinner in lacrosse while in only two seasons playing field hockey, she currently sixth in career saves (181) and seventh in career shutouts (12) while her single-season totals of 135 saves and 10 shutouts in 1989 both rank third in program history.

From 1992-1994, Moelk was an assistant coach at Denison in both lacrosse and field hockey. Then for one season, she was an intern assistant coach for Princeton University before returning to her alma mater as head coach of both lacrosse and field hockey for the 1995-96 academic year. She coached the Big Red to records of 11-7 in field hockey and 12-2 in lacrosse stat year.

From 1996-99, Moelk was the assistant women’s lacrosse coach for The Ohio State University’s (OSU) program’s first three varsity seasons. Following her position at OSU, Moelk was named the first head coach for women’s lacrosse at Division I Ohio University from 1999-2003. Moelk has also served as head coach for England’s Under 21 Squad while since 2007, she has been a trainer in the U.S. Lacrosse Coaches Development Program.

Moelk accepted DePauw University’s women’s lacrosse head coaching position in July of 2019, and is currently both the Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach and the Director of Athletics Compliance at DePauw.

Moelk earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in History at Denison, earned her Master of Arts in Sport and Exercise Studies at The Ohio State University, and earned a Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law (Minn.).

Q: How did Title IX personally impact your time as a student-athlete, and how would you describe the long-term impact that Title IX has in women’s sports?

A: I don’t think I realized that Title IX existed when I was a student-athlete. Looking back, I realize how much I benefited from Title IX. I was able to play two varsity sports in college, had trained and talented coaches, and recall feeling there was fairness in how our teams were supported by the administration in terms of access and resources. And we had so much success. I didn’t start to think much about Title IX until I was in graduate school and wrote a thesis on the topic. Title IX at that time was being blamed for the loss of men’s sports, particularly wrestling, and I remember feeling both excited and guilty at the same time. I knew that schools were making financial decisions about dropping and adding sports and that people saw Title IX as an easy scapegoat for the cuts, but the empath in me was sad for the men who lost their opportunities, particularly when the whole point of Title IX was to increase opportunities where there was a demand. I still experience times when I feel almost apologetic when I am asking for parity for myself or my program, but that feeling disappears much more rapidly than it did early in my career.

Q: As a female student-athlete and now looking back after college, what does Title IX mean to you? 

A: Looking back, Title IX has had a huge impact on my life. Beyond the participation opportunities, the employment opportunities Title IX created for me have been life changing. From my time as a coach, first at Denison, then at the Division I level – I was a D1 head coach before I was 30 years old – Title IX allowed me to pursue my coaching aspirations. When I decided to attend law school, my interests and career choices continued to be influenced by Title IX. Shortly after law school, I was lucky enough to be asked to return to the law school to work in student affairs. This was around 2010 and Title IX was being pursued and enforced in the courts differently by this time. In 2011, the “Dear Colleague” letter was published and set the new standard for how institutions were required to address issues of sexual assault and sexual violence on their campuses. My student affairs role soon became focused largely on immersing myself in Title IX work while guiding the school in developing and enforcing Title IX policies. After a short stint working primarily with Title IX matters at a university in Indiana in 2017, I became overwhelmed with both the number of cases I was seeing, and the difficulty in providing a fair process for all involved. I did the very middle-aged thing of asking myself what made me happy, and realized that all through my time away from full-time coaching, I had continued to coach lacrosse at various levels and with various organizations. I was thrilled when, in 2019, the head lacrosse coach job at DePauw University opened up and I was selected to be their next head coach. I see so much of the progress of Title IX in my work now, both on the more traditional equity issues and on the sexual assault concerns. I am grateful that there are so many opportunities for women to participate in sports at all levels and am encouraged by the continued growth (in participation and investment) in professional women’s sports. I am also grateful that the young women I work with no longer feel like they have to accept sexual harassment as a part of their collegiate experience. We certainly have room to grow in both areas, but the progress is real and meaningful.

Megan Whiteside ShaferMegan Whiteside Shafer ’94

Megan Whiteside Shafer grew up in Ohio and graduated from Denison in 1994 with a degree in Sociology and Anthropology. During her time as a student-athlete at Denison, Megan played soccer, basketball, and track and served as a captain of both the track and soccer teams. She is now a member of the Denison Athletic Hall of Fame. She graduated from Temple University School of Law in 2000.

Megan currently serves as the Assistant to the Superintendent for District Administration in the Lower Merion School District. Prior to her appointment with the District, she practiced law at Wisler Pearlstine LLP and Morgan Lewis in my focus areas of education, civil rights, and employment. Prior to the practice of law, she served as a Senior Equal Opportunity Specialist with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. In that capacity she led complex and comprehensive compliance investigations involving alleged discrimination based on sex, race, and disability. During that time, Megan received the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Annual Award in recognition for contributions to a multi-regional task force focusing on civil rights issues in urban education.

Megan is married to Jack Shafer, Athletic Director at Widener University, and is the proud parent of a daughter in ninth grade and a son in eighth grade.

Q: How would you describe the long-term impact that Title IX has in women’s sports?

A: Title IX has had a tremendous impact on women’s sports especially in terms of the significant expansion of opportunities to compete at most levels. I can’t imagine what our society would look like today without the passage of this legislation. Would we have the millions of worldwide supporters of women’s basketball and soccer? Would we be buying jerseys and other merchandise representing female athletes that are aggressive, bold, and outspoken? And, more simply, would we have the perspective that women can and must serve in myriad roles outside of narrowly-defined traditional expectations? My belief is that but for Title IX, we would likely be living in a drastically different world.

That said, 50 years is a long time when you consider the gaps that continue to exist and the battles that female athletes must continue to fight regarding, among other things, salaries and harassment. There also remain significant opportunity gaps for women at the professional level as well as disproportionate representation among the coaching ranks at all levels for both men’s and women’s teams. I’ve had recent reason to reflect on this living in the vicinity of Philadelphia. For all the celebration (and disappointment) we’ve experienced relating to professional sports, the city displays a stunning imbalance as these heralded sports teams are all men and there are no major professional teams representing women in this area.

I remain optimistic that we will continue to see positive growth toward the goal of achieving equitable opportunities in all areas of athletics without regard to factors such as sex, gender, race, and disability.

Q: What do you think Denison did right regarding Title IX that other schools struggled with?

A: As part of my senior research that I completed as a Sociology/Anthropology major, I studied the impact of Title IX at the collegiate level. Specifically, I looked at the comparison between a Division I school (Ohio State) and a Division III school (Denison). For many reasons, I concluded that Denison got a lot of things right. When you take significant reliance on (perceived) revenue and scholarships off the table, you tend to have a more equitable framework for decision-making. When each sport gets what they need to train and compete, have equitable cycles of replacement, have equitable access to high quality facilities, have equitable publicity, you are set up to meet the expectations of Title IX. I also believe the design of the NCAC – placing value on the contributions of both men’s and women’s teams in determining an overall champion – was critical in supporting the spirit of Title IX. Finally, having key individuals in leadership positions (like Lynn Schweizer and Sara Lee), who believe in the work and understand the vision, ensure that the tenets of Title IX are realized every day.

Q: Can you talk about a time in your life where you noticed inequities in sports, how that impacted you and how you handled it?

A: As a child, I was fortunate to grow up in an area that supported girls’ sports. However, that support never equated to the level of support boys’ teams received – from bands and cheerleaders to pep rallies and other promotions – both at the school and community level. On one occasion, a few of my teammates and I started a petition to allow the girls’ basketball team to be featured as part of a school-wide pep rally. To our disappointment, the initiative was not supported by our school without any explanation. Unfortunately, I think we continue to see these types of inequities that are couched as “tradition” but signal the relative value we place on male versus female sports. It’s a reminder to all who care about this issue to keep speaking up and find supportive voices within your community to make a difference.

Also, earlier in my career, I served as an investigator with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. In that capacity, I investigated claims of discrimination under Title IX as well as other civil rights laws. At that time, a prevalent narrative was that adding something for female athletes necessitated a detriment to male athletes. I regularly explained that there is nothing under Title IX requiring male teams be reduced or eliminated in order to be compliant with the law. I am hopeful that today’s athletic landscape proves that there is room for everyone.

Q: How did Title IX personally impact your time as a student-athlete?

A: For me, there is a clear and positive connection between my experience as a student-athlete and the passage of Title IX. I believe the legislation – more specifically the opportunities it provided – gave me a voice. As a somewhat shy student-athlete, I was able to express my personality as teammate, competitor, and leader in a forum that allows all of those things to happen dynamically. I loved being an athlete at Denison so much so that I played sports throughout the year (soccer, basketball, indoor/outdoor track). I have wonderful memories of the connections I had with teammates, coaches, and supportive staff. Denison was a great place to grow both athletically and academically.

 

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50 Years of Title IX: Women of the 1990’s

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