I am stunned and appalled by “men’s rights” activist Mark Perry’s federal complaint against Duke University’s Alice M. Baldwin Scholars program.
From my understanding, Perry hopes to strip schools like Duke of federal funding on the grounds that Title IX — which prohibits sex discrimination in an institution’s programs — is violated by Baldwin Scholars, a program made specifically to support female-identified undergrads.
The Office for Civil Rights states that, “Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex,” but the word “protect” implies that a party faces vulnerability or active harm. In terms of gender equality, men as a whole — being the fundamental benefiters of patriarchal societies — have never been marginalized, especially in the realm of higher education. Despite gradual progressiveness towards a more egalitarian society, we have not evolved so far as for men to experience discrimination as intensely and often as women have. The playing field has never been even, and thus, programs like Baldwin Scholars are not made to “advantage the ‘right’ sex” but to further smooth this gap through empowerment and community.
I am certain that former Rep. Patsy Mink, creator of Title IX, would be horrified to see how skewed her legislation has become. Being denied admission into medical school and serving as one of the few women in Capitol Hill during her time, Mink herself faced the systemic drawbacks of existing as a woman, which motivated her advocacy. As we continue to evaluate policies concerning equity and prejudicial treatment, we must remember the core reasons for their origination.
Baldwin Scholars is an exemplary model of Duke’s commitment to forming intimate, supportive environments amongst students, and as both a woman and a prospective Blue Devil, I hope for the preservation of this program against what seem to be manifestations of ignorance and competitive victimization.
Sophia Zhao is a senior at Lambert High School in Suwanee, Georgia.
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