Gail Murphy-Geiss talks about winter, recent events on campus, and being the Title IX coordinator

Can you describe Title IX?

Title IX basically says no one can be discriminated against related to gender or sex in an educational setting. That’s it. That’s the entire law. But from that comes a lot of case law over the past almost 50 years coming from women in equality from sports originally, and then it developed into equality in education programing, and now the focus is on sexual assault.

Maybe you know, but there were big cases for men wanting to get into nursing programs and women trying to get into military academies. So, women in sports were first because it is so obviously unequal… There was a boys’ soccer team but not a girls’ soccer team, so the disparity between men and women was so obvious in sports. Then it became obvious in academic programming, such as women who wanted to be physics professors or physicists and men who wanted to be teachers. But there were nursing programs at all-girls schools, for example, and a man might want to get into that program at an all-girls school. And then women wanted to get into military academies. And there are other military related issues too related to equality. It later became about sexual assault, as women who were getting sexually assaulted were dropping out of school, and women saying, ‘I can’t study in the library as long as my male colleagues because I’m afraid to walk home in the dark.’ So that is the case law. The title IX itself is a one-sentence law saying that there can be no gender sex discrimination in education.

How did you get the position of the Title IX coordinator?

Jill [Tiefenthaler] asked me to be the Title IX coordinator, and I think she did it at the request of Ginger Morgan’s recommendation. Ginger was the previous Title IX coordinator, and she thought a faculty member would be a good choice to follow her, and my research is on sexual assault and sexual harassment in the workplace, and I had done rape victim advocacy. I was also a college chaplin for six years, so I had done a lot of that kind of work. It made sense when she asked me so I thought I would give it a try.

Do you think most students at CC are aware of what Title IX is?

I don’t know. I hope so. Gosh, I know that they are aware of sexual assault issues. The recent survey taken showed that students are very aware of our policies on sexual assault and our resources. But I suspect that students don’t know how that relates to Title IX specifically as much.

What do you think is the most rewarding part of being a Title IX coordinator and a sociology professor?

They are really different. My favorite part of the Title IX job is when we find somebody responsible for sexual assault and we sanction him or her appropriately. I just think it is satisfying to offer consequences to people who have misbehaved. I am a mom, so I get to be a mom in that way. The teaching job is kind of the opposite. It’s setting the high bar and lifting them up to reach it. They are both sort of parenting things, but one is sort of bad consequence and the other is good consequence.

Do you have a favorite block of the year?

I guess I like Block 7 because the weather is getting nice and I get to go to teach in France. That is a great block. It’s almost the end of the year but without the craziness that comes with Block 8.

Do you have a class that you most enjoy teaching?

I think my favorite class is FYE. I have been teaching it for probably 12 years. It’s just really fun to help students orient themselves to college-level work. I stay in touch with some of those students for all four years and some even beyond.

What do you like the most about winter?

The end of it. I don’t like winter.

Are you originally from a place that did not have cold winters?

I am from New Jersey. There is nothing good in the winter in New Jersey. There is the Jersey Shore where I spent my summers as a kid. There is nothing to do in the winter. I do Nordic ski, so I don’t mind that, but it’s still a couple hours up to the mountains. So I don’t get to do that very often. I like to hike. I am a very avid bike rider. I have a road bike, and I spend many miles on that in the summer. So in the winter I can’t really do that.

Do you have anything to say regarding the recent events on campus?

I was quoted in last week’s Catalyst, and I think what they quoted me is saying there was quite good. I think it is a sign—not the Yik Yak things—that there is always going to be racism and hatred and people who are either ignorant or downright mean. But I think it is so front and center in our conversation on campus, which is somewhat new. It’s always been on at least the fringes—it has always been a center in sociology so it is not new to me—but that we are having a sustained and focused conversation on it is a good sign. And it is a good sign that we now have enough students and faculty on campus that care about it, particularly of color, to keep it going. So the future looks bright. We are going to talk about it front and center, and I think that is great.

What are three adjectives to describe yourself?

Upbeat, outgoing, and enthusiastic.

Do you have anything to say regarding the recent events on campus?

I was quoted in last week’s Catalyst, and I think what they quoted me as saying there was quite good. I think it is a sign—not the Yik Yak things—that there is always going to be racism and hatred and people who are either ignorant or downright mean. But I think it is so front and center in our conversation on campus, which is somewhat new. It’s always been on at least the fringes—it has always been a center in sociology so it is not new to me—but that we are having a sustained and focused conversation on it is a good sign. And it is a good sign that we now have enough students and faculty on campus that care about it, particularly of color, to keep it going. So the future looks bright. We are going to talk about it front and center, and I think that is great.

What are three adjectives to describe yourself?

Upbeat, outgoing, and enthusiastic.

Comments

comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *