30th anniversary year sparks Title IX meeting

Although it has been 30 years since Title IX first became law, some students feel Yale can do more to promote the equality between men’s and women’s varsity athletics than Title IX requires.

The Bush administration’s decision this summer to re-evaluate the validity of Title IX — the section of the Educational Amendment of 1972 that promotes gender equity in athletics and academics — prompted a small group to gather at the Women’s Center Tuesday and discuss issues relating to Title IX and Yale athletics.

Women’s ice hockey team member Rory Neuner ’03 said she also called the meeting to address issues of gender equality that she and other athletes believe have not been openly discussed at Yale.

“My goals are to encourage more support and respect on this campus for women’s athletics, open a healthy dialogue about some issues that have previously gone untouched, and ultimately work for positive change,” Neuner said.

Neuner opened the meeting by explaining the benefits that Title IX grants to female athletes. At Yale, which has been co-ed for 33 years, 45.2 percent of varsity athletes are female, according to the last available Equality in Athletics Disclosure Act released by the athletic department for the year 2000-01. The new athletic expenditures report will be released Oct. 15.

But Neuner, along with some of her teammates from the hockey team and other varsity athletes, expressed concerns that Yale athletics may not be in full compliance with Title IX.

“I know that the Athletics Department is trying,” Neuner said. “No one is walking up to us and saying that we’re not important or that the men deserve more, but there are situations where women feel slighted, whether it’s publicity or coming back from a road trip, finding glasses of beer in the bathroom of your locker room, popcorn all over the floor, and drunken people wandering about.”

As for publicity issues, members of Yale’s women’s hockey, rugby and softball teams agreed that changes need to be made. Neuner and teammate Nicolette Franck ’04 said their games have not been attended by a professional photographer.

Women’s ice hockey captain Kaitlin Porcaro ’03 will stage a photo for the team’s publicity poster in a few days.

Neuner asked the group what actions they could take to amend the financial and publicity gaps between men’s and women’s sports at Yale. The group agreed that Yale’s female athletes should work with, rather than against, the athletic department to improve their treatment.

As part of Yale’s efforts to work toward total Title IX compliance, the administration made sailing a varsity sport last spring. Because sailing’s varsity status added 36 new varsity athlete slots, 24 of which were women, the ratio of female to male athletes is now closer to that of the broader undergraduate population. Title IX legislation stipulates that every college should ensure that the ratio of female varsity athletes to male varsity athletes reflects the gender ratio of the undergraduate population.

One captain of a women’s varsity team said these issues must be framed in different terms than they were 30 years ago in order to attract the same level of interest.

“If I tell them we’re doing this for a new locker room, they’ll say ‘Yeah, OK, we really need that,'” the captain said. “If I say we’re going to talk about Title IX, they won’t care.”

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