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OCR: Office for Civil Rights
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OCR Letters

January 5, 2000

Dr. Henry Bienen
President
Northwestern University
633 Clark Street
Evanston, Illinois 60208

Re: 05972130

Dear Dr. Bienen:

On June 17, 1997, the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), received a complaint filed against Northwestern University (University). The complaint alleged that the University subjects females to discrimination on the basis of gender because it does not effectively accommodate the athletic interests and abilities of male and female students with respect to the provision of opportunity for females to participate in intercollegiate athletic competition.

OCR is responsible for enforcing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as amended, 20 U.S.C. ??1681 et seq. (Title IX), and its implementing regulation, 34 C.F.R. Part 106, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender. Accordingly, OCR has jurisdiction over this complaint.

During the course of the OCR's investigation, our Office and the University reached agreement as to the actions appropriate for resolving the issue raised in the complaint. The University will undertake the actions outlined in the enclosed Agreement To Resolve Complaint (Agreement). OCR will monitor the University's implementation of the Agreement. In the event the Agreement is not fully implemented, OCR will immediately resume and complete its investigation.

I wish to thank you and your staff, particularly Stephanie Graham, Associate General Counsel, for the cooperation extended to OCR. If you have any questions about this letter or related to the implementation of the Agreement, please contact Algis Tamosiunas of my staff at 312/886-8403.

Sincerely,

Linda McGovern
Director
Chicago Office

Enclosure
cc: Ms. Stephanie Graham

AGREEMENT TO RESOLVE COMPLAINT

Northwestern University (hereinafter University) submits the following agreement to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), regarding complaint #05972130. This agreement is submitted in order to resolve the complaint and ensure the University's compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as amended, 20 U.S.C. ??1681 et seq. (Title IX), and its implementing regulation, 34 C.F.R. Part 106, with regard to the allegation raised in the complaint. OCR and the University have discussed during several meetings the various means through which the University can resolve the allegation, and the University has voluntarily chosen to implement the following:

  1. The University will elevate a women's team (team) to intercollegiate varsity status effective the 2001-02 academic year. The University will inform OCR by February 1, 2000, of the team it has identified for elevation to intercollegiate varsity status. The University will provide sufficient resources to ensure that the team will be able to undertake a full competitive intercollegiate varsity schedule during the 2001-02 academic year. To this end, the University will provide the women's team, in a manner comparable to its other intercollegiate varsity teams, with sufficient funds in its budget to cover expenses including, but not limited to: coaching, recruiting participants, meeting equipment-handling needs, appropriate equipment and supplies, traveling, publicity, and support services. Financial aid for the elevated team will be phased in over a four year period beginning in academic year 2001-2002.
  2. During the 2000-01 academic year, the University will provide transitional funding and increase the University's nonfinancial support of the team to allow it to begin preparations for the elevation to intercollegiate varsity status. The transitional funding and nonfinancial support will be sufficient to prepare the team for elevation to intercollegiate varsity level competition beginning with the 2001-02 academic year.
  3. Unless the University can, by June 30, 2002, demonstrate to OCR compliance with Prong 1 of the "three-part test" referenced in paragraph # 5, infra, the University will, by October 15, 2002, complete an assessment of the athletic interests and abilities of female students and admitted students to determine the relationship between the interests and abilities of women at the University and the participation opportunities available. The assessment shall ascertain the athletic interests and abilities of University students and admitted students, which may be demonstrated by survey results and by an examination of campus club and intramural sports participation. The University may also consider other indicia of interest and ability, including but not limited to: the participation rates of girls in interscholastic sports as demonstrated by high school athletic programs in states where the University recruits and its athletes compete; the intercollegiate sports offerings at colleges and universities in states where the University's athletes normally compete, including but not limited to competition offered at institutions in the Big Ten Conference; and emerging sports as identified by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Big Ten Conference, and other national and regional governing bodies.
  4. If, pursuant to paragraph 3, above, the University conducts an assessment, then by November 1, 2002, the University will provide OCR with a copy of the assessment tool along with a description of the assessment methodology and results.
  5. The University will, by January 15, 2003, develop and submit to OCR its plan to demonstrate compliance with Title IX and its implementing regulation at 34 C.F.R. ??106.41(c)(1), in a manner consistent with the Intercollegiate Athletics Policy Interpretation issued December 11, 1979, and found at 44 Fed. Reg. 71414 et seq., and any amendments prior to January 15, 2003, to the regulation or Policy Interpretation. The plan will include timetables to demonstrate how the University will achieve compliance with Title IX through any of the three prongs of the "three part test" by no later than the end of the 2003-04 academic year.
  6. OCR and the University acknowledge that the University will be in a "compliance mode" during the period while this agreement is being implemented. As such, in the event a complaint raising the issue of athletic participation opportunities addressed in this agreement is filed with OCR during the term of this agreement, OCR will, consistent with its internal procedures, decline to proceed to case resolution.
  7. By May 1, 2000, and by this date in each of the subsequent years through and including May 1, 2004, the University will submit to OCR a status report with supporting documentation detailing its actions to implement each of the provisions of this agreement.

FOR NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY:

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