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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
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A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden’s Title IX changes

Texas+A%26amp%3BM+University+System+Chancellor+John+Sharp+attends+the+Class+of+1972+50-year+reunion+in+Kyle+Field+on+April+20%2C+2022.
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.

Weeks after stating the Texas A&M System would comply with President Biden’s Title IX changes, Director of Title IX and Student Conduct Compliance Rick Olshak has been suspended with pay while the university investigates “allegations about his job performance as a System employee.” 

Title IX, a regulation part of a civil rights law banning sex discrimination at public universities that receive federal funding, is set to be updated with more inclusive language, transgender student protections and trial changes that remove live hearing and cross-examination requirements, per directive from the Biden administration.

In a story published May 1 by The Battalion covering the changes, Olshak said he agreed with the proposals and that the university would implement them. He said some changes didn’t go far enough, such as transgender participation in athletics.

The Biden administration left out the most polarizing piece of the regulations, which is transgender participation in athletics. So, we were very disappointed when we heard the rumor that this part would be left out.

— Rick Olshak, May 1

The new proposals, however, are another victim of the culture war that is consuming politics. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued the Biden administration to stop the changes, and Governor Greg Abbott released a statement on April 29 denouncing them.

On May 6, far-right publication Texas Scorecard followed the initial article’s release by reporting on Olshak’s comments and A&M’s stance, specifically focusing on Olshak’s quote on transgender students and how A&M’s position differs from state guidance. In the summer of 2023, an article by Scorecard began the debacle that eventually led to the failed hiring of Kathleen McElroy as director of A&M’s new journalism program.

A day following Scorecard’s May 6 story, Associate Vice President of Communications Kelly Brown shared a memo with The Battalion stating that in light of the litigation, the A&M System “will not take any action to implement the new federal regulations” until a federal court rules on it.

Abbott released a memo on May 8 that further reinforced his stance against the changes.

“As I have already made clear, Texas will not comply with President Joe Biden’s rewrite of Title IX that contradicts the original purpose and spirit of the law to support the advancement of women,” the letter reads. “Last week, I instructed the Texas Education Agency to ignore President Biden’s illegal dictate of Title IX. Today, I am instructing every public college and university in the State of Texas to do the same.”

Scorecard’s story was used as the basis for an article by KTRH-AM titled “Woke Texas A&M Plans to Implement Biden’s Controversial Title IX Rewrite.”

“It is truly hard to believe that a once proud, conservative university, has gone completely ‘woke,’” the story reads.

Abbott posted the story on his X account on May 13 with the caption, “If they do [implement the changes], if they act contrary to state policy, they are jeopardizing state funding, including money from the PUF fund.” The PUF, or permanent university fund, is an endowment supporting public higher education in Texas. The post garnered over 500,000 views and 11,000 likes.

That same day, Olshak filed an affidavit supporting Paxton’s lawsuit, and he said the changes would “increase the workload of the [A&M] System Title IX Office and the Title IX Offices of the component universities.”

A&M System Chancellor John Sharp, speaking at a Texas Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education on May 14, commented that following the initial story’s release, he sent the memo stating the A&M system won’t comply because “the governor will say otherwise.”

“The problem is that our good friends at Scorecard wouldn’t print that part of it,” Sharp said. “They just printed the first part of it.”

Then, on May 16, Scorecard published another story investigating Olshak further, focusing again on his support of transgender participation in athletics.

“State lawmakers passed a law against that practice just last year,” the story reads. “Questions were raised regarding Olshak’s adherence to Texas values.”

The story dives into his personal life, including when he was hired, his duties and his political beliefs. Much of the story investigates his social media posts, where he publishes pro-Democrat content and discusses his support for DEI and LGBTQ+ rights. Throughout the piece, Scorecard questions why Olshak was hired and whether the System will “choose to keep him.”

The story alleges Olshak’s beliefs and performance oppose A&M’s values as a “conservative stalwart.” On X, Scorecard paid to advertise the story to individuals in College Station with the message that the investigation has “revealed political leanings out of step with Texas A&M’s image.” 

It states on May 15, Scorecard contacted A&M regarding his employment. They were met with a statement from A&M System Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications Laylan Copelin on the morning of May 16.

“Chancellor John Sharp has directed that Rick Olshak be suspended with pay in accordance with System policy while allegations about his job performance as a System employee are investigated,” Copelin said. “Please note that the allegations under investigation do not include his private social media posts, as this activity is protected by the First Amendment.”

Copelin denied to comment in a May 21 email, stating “the investigation is ongoing.” Olshak has said he will not comment at the moment.

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About the Contributor
Nicholas Gutteridge
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor
Nicholas Gutteridge joined The Battalion in January 2023 as a news reporter before being promoted to news editor in August 2023. He interned at The Pentagon in Washington D.C. from January to May 2024 with the U.S. Air Force Office of Public Affairs before rejoining the newspaper. He specializes in investigative reporting and will be the managing editor for the 2024-25 academic year.
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Comments (7)

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  • D

    David B.Jun 21, 2024 at 4:22 am

    Well written article, providing the facts.without opinion or apparent bias. Great job Battalion staff!

    Reply
  • T

    Tom Urban '85Jun 13, 2024 at 9:53 am

    Once again the right wing extremist actions of Paxton and Abbott have caused Texas A&M to engage in a witch hunt against a highly qualified professional. It is reminiscent of the book burnings of Jim Crow or the purges in 1930s Germany. The politicians should let this man do his job. Ignorance does not belong at a world class institution. If you want a backwards, ignorant college, go to Baylor.

    Reply
    • D

      David B.Jun 21, 2024 at 4:12 am

      Not reminiscent of any of those things. Just potentially saying “Your approach is not what we want for this school so we’ll separate and you are free to find an organization that more closely matches your philosophy.” Much different than not being allowed to shop in a store or being thrown in jail.

      Whether the school is right or wrong is open to debate but we need to leave the hyperbole at the door if we’re going to have an intelligent, adult debate, as is needed.

      Reply
  • S

    SAM MYERSMay 28, 2024 at 3:36 pm

    Curious why my comment wasn’t posted after I verified my email

    Reply
  • S

    SAM MYERSMay 26, 2024 at 7:21 am

    Simple question that as yet no one, in any forum has been able to answer : Why do the athletic hopes and dreams of transgender women automatically take priority over the athletic hopes and dreams of female athletes?

    Reply
  • E

    ErichMay 24, 2024 at 12:33 pm

    Olshak’s willingness to comply with the biden regime’s far left policies are not compatible with TAMU. Glad cooler heads are prevailing. Love my Aggies!

    Reply
    • J

      james elmquistJun 18, 2024 at 10:25 am

      One must continue to remember who writes the check.
      This is a financial decision not political.
      Please learn to live in a microcosmic world it will help.

      Reply