In the Press

Title IX at 50: How 37 words changed the world for women (The Christian Science Monitor)

Title IX at 50: How 37 words changed the world for women

A 37-word law passed 50 years ago has dramatically expanded the rights of women on America’s athletic fields – and beyond.

For its cover feature on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, The Christian Science Monitor speaks to Dr. Ann Olivarius about her landmark case to bring charges against Yale University, and how it changed the law forever.

Extract:

One prominent member of the cast was Ann Olivarius. She arrived at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1973, just four years after the college opened its undergraduate programs to women. But the thrill of attending one of the nation’s most hallowed halls of learning was soon replaced by outrage.

As an undergraduate researching the status of women at the university, who made up just a quarter of the student body, Dr. Olivarius noticed a pattern: Female students who reported accounts of sexual harassment and rape by faculty members had no protections from the university. 

“We fundamentally could not understand why there was a disconnect,” says Dr. Olivarius, who runs a legal practice today that includes a specialty in sex discrimination. “Our view was that everyone had a mother at least, most had partners, they had daughters, they had cousins, they had sisters. … Why would they look the other way?” 

She gathered together plaintiffs, with the support of legal theorist Catharine MacKinnon and attorneys at the New Haven Law Collective. They filed a lawsuit in 1977 using an untested argument: By failing to effectively address complaints of sexual assault and harassment, Yale was violating Title IX. Only one of the plaintiffs’ claims advanced to trial. The rest were dismissed. But a single line written by U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Latimer in Alexander v. Yale changed history: 

“It is perfectly reasonable to maintain that academic advancement conditioned upon submission to sexual demands constitutes sex discrimination in education.” 

I will always be grateful for your unwavering support of me. Equally, I will always be grateful for showing me how to find my voice and strength.

Title IX case against UCLA, client confidential

It was such a weight off our shoulders; suddenly somebody else with a lot more experience was managing the case.

Sandeep Mander, Mander v. Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

We really thought that there was nothing that anybody could do for us. We were wrong.

Dr Celeste Kidd, Aslin et al v. University of Rochester et al

To get the result you got you must be as tough with your legal opposites as you are kind and understanding to your clients.

AOA client, confidential

Compared with other law firms I’ve worked with, no one matches the combination that McO has of experience, brilliance, ferocious fighting and deep empathy for their clients.

Dr Holly Atkinson, Atkinson et al v. Mount Sinai Health System, Inc. et al

Because my case could not bear public scrutiny, a very powerful institution used massive financial resources to try to crush me for asking for my disability rights. This was a huge mistake, as they didn’t know that I would obtain McO representation. I couldn’t ask for better representation.

Disability Rights client, confidential

I would like to say from bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you to all the team. Now I can go and forget my former employer. God bless you all.

Unfair Dismissal client, confidential