What does it mean when a marching band makes the formation of Roman Numeral 9 (IX) on the field during halftime of a college football game?
The marching band from Rice University in Houston did such a thing during the school’s Friday night loss to visiting Baylor University, and the reference was clear to everyone: Baylor, based in Waco, Texas, has been besieged with a sexual assault scandal this year, and several victims of the alleged assaults have accused the school of negligence in dealing with the charges, which are filed under Title IX.
Rice’s band, the Marching Owl Band, or MOB, has a long history of parody and spoof in performance. Once the “IX” was formed, the band broke into a rendition of “Hit the Road, Jack,” confirmed on video and by the Houston Chronicle.
Baylor’s football program, in particular, has been accused of not responding to accusations of sexual assault. The head coach last year, Art Briles, was fired after the scandal broke, and Kenneth Starr eventually quit as the president and chancellor. The MOB, in order to make the reference clear and unmistakable, made a star formation later in the halftime show.
Even still, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the “powerhouse football team brings in millions of dollars in annual revenue” and “has a clear incentive to shield football players from punishment.” The investigation is ongoing, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that this football team, like so many others at the college level on down, has young men who feel entitled to abuse other human beings in the interest of false machismo.
Sexual assault and harassment in K-12 schools
The White House released an interactive tool today, called “Safe Place to Learn: Prevent, Intercede, and Respond to Sexual Harassment of K-12 Students,” which features information for schools and other stakeholders about developing appropriate sexual misconduct policies. Catherine Lhamon, the US Education Department’s assistant secretary for Civil Rights, said the tool was developed in response to what the department has been hearing about the very serious issue of sexual assault and harassment in K-12 schools.
The tools were rolled out at a White House conference titled “Trauma-Informed Approaches in School: Supporting Girls of Color and Rethinking Discipline,” which was sponsored by the White House Council on Women and Girls, the Education Department, the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, and the National Crittenton Foundation.
“We now have opened 99 investigations of school districts around the country, whether it’s sexual violence or sexual harassment, and likewise we have opened 350 investigations in school districts related to race discrimination and school discipline. So these are topics that are very much top-of-mind for us, and a very large portion of our enforcement docket,” Ms Lhamon said. “We’ve also seen very distressing cases of non-compliance of Title IX.”