Title IX and discrimination against international students

Title IX was introduced as part of United States Education Amendments of 1972 stating that, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance (Title IX – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, n.d.). Formerly the cases of discrimination were supposed to be considered for investigation and redressal under Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was originally set generally for handling the cases of discrimination based on religion, color, nationality, racial background, and gender discrimination, but the Act of 1964 was basically purposed at handling such cases at workplace and in employment. Practically it could not effectively address issues of discrimination in public education and federally financed/assisted programs. Secondly, the nature of issues related to discrimination in the educational institutions presents quite different challenges which needed special attention and required to be dealt with differently from issues of discrimination at workplace and other areas. Hence the main purpose of the introduction of Title IX was to directly support not only the struggles against gender discrimination in educational institutions at all levels but it was also purposed to cater for discrimination based on race, color, culture, and other aspects. Since Title IX is supposed to be applied to discrimination cases in academia i.e. schools, colleges, and higher education institutions, to take care of discrimination occurrences with teachers and students, the major question that arises is that whether it really supports individuals based on all the discrimination variables.

The increasing number of international students, and the increasing immigration restrictions by the United States immigration authorities, emphasizes the analysis of Title IX in terms of its support to International students studying in United States of America. The major purpose of this article is to analyze whether Article IX supports international students irrespective of their nationality (origin) and whether this support has been effective in addressing the issues of international students or not.

Groden (2014, December 2) reported 886,000 international students studying in American universities. Of these, majority of international students did not receive any funding from Federal financing and paid their own tuition fee. Despite paying heavy tuition fees, and possessing enormous talent, international students are not being supported or rewarded deserved opportunities in employment. International students, especially those studying undergraduate programs are prohibited by American law to work off campus, or study and work together like federal work-study programs available to resident students. Moreover, international students who want to work in United States of America after graduation, have to pass through long, complicated, expensive, and uncertain processes of immigration. The source added the shocking fact that students at the time of getting their student visa are required to prove that they must return to their home country after completing their graduation. Analyzing this source shows that international students despite their talent are discriminated in terms of career opportunities as compared to residents. This represents discrimination based on region while Article IX has no clause to support international students against this discrimination.

Binding of maintaining full-time student status for international students however is another thing which can be considered as discrimination based on region (nationality). Questions and Answers on Title IX and sexual violence (2014) clearly mentions that international students cannot reduce their course load below a minimum of 12 credit hours as long as they are not eligible for a limited time waiver like based on sickness and/or having experienced sexual violence and discrimination based on gender etc. While on the other hand, Article IX has no such restrictions for the residents of United States of America. The source explains that the students must inform their respective international offices in case they want to register a reduced course load. Moreover this waiver is very limited in nature and presents a discrimination issue against international students.

Regarding whether Article IX supports international students against sexual violence, there are several supportive procedures that Article IX and immigration laws have set and which must be appreciated which a few exceptions. Updated 2015, the United States Department of Education’s Questions and Answers on Title IX and sexual violence (2014) provides very clear explanations regarding Title IX application to international students and their rights, which not only facilitates international students in understanding Title IX but also imposes on the educational institutions to ensure further facilitation of international students in understanding and benefiting from it. For example, the notice of language assistance in the Title IX resource notifies that in case any students do not understand the language of the Title IX, may call or email at the given contacts for language assistance. Even this message of language assistance has been translated into six different languages in order for it to reach the maximum students even with those having English language difficulty. This enables and encourages non English speaking individuals (i.e. international students) to find information about their rights and experience these rights to the fullest. Language support initiative provides a positive gesture that Title IX supports, protects as well as facilitates students with languages other than English, which include international students.

Questions and Answers on Title IX and sexual violence (2011) section B-5 also addresses the concerns of international students explicitly by mentioning that subject to maintaining of appropriate student status, they are eligible and are fully protected by Title IX. The report further imposes on the educational institutions to educate all students irrespective of national origin, regarding their rights according to Title IX and make the necessary tools and procedures for complaints of discrimination easily accessible to international students.

To support international students and to spread awareness regarding their due rights however, Title IX emphasizes the educational institutions to reinforce such practices to ensure that international students are not discriminated. For example, Questions and Answers on Title IX and sexual violence (2011) imposes on educational institutions to inform all international students about the U non-immigrant status and T non-immigrant status. The two statuses allow the victims to stay in the United States during the investigation process. These two statuses also allow those international students who are witness to or have some information about such incidents of discrimination. Similarly, the law also advises the educational institutions to train employees and counsellors in dealing with victims of any violence at educational institutions, who are international, so as to make sure that all procedures are fair and free of any sort of discrimination and so that there is no problem for international students in reporting their cases.

The discussion above shows that on one hand, Title IX strongly supports international students in some aspects like providing the opportunity to understand their rights by providing the opportunity of language assistance, organization of periodic seminars and documentations to disseminate the required information regarding the practices of Article IX etc. The provision of immigration status in case international students file any discrimination case also shows a strong support of Article IX for international students. While on the other hand, Article IX does not support any case of discrimination in terms of employment opportunities, immigration procedures, and tuition fee reductions to keep international students in par with the resident students. Based on these findings, it can be concluded that Article IX still needs a lot of revisions, and considerations in terms of dealing with international students. Article IX should consider the issue of equal employment opportunities for international students upon completion of their degrees. Similarly, Article IX should consider the issue of immigration procedures for the international graduating students so that they can not only enjoy the benefits of their hard work and huge investments of time and money, but can also contribute to the economy of the country. Moreover, the Article IX must also consider the issue of financial support to international students based on talent as well as the discriminating levels of tuition fee differences between local and foreign students. Article IX should also be reinforced with more obligations on the educational institutions in order to ensure its due practice and that the discrimination cases are handled with care as several sources have verified that in most cases the authorities from the university have either direct or indirect control of the decision making processes which again take Article IX towards failure. In short, Title IX still requires to ensure that not only the residents and immigrants, but also the non-immigrant/international students receive their due rights and that any discrimination against any students be discouraged effectively.