by Alejandra Molina
LV Life Editor
While more than half of the University of La Verne student body is female, women here account for only 36 percent of the competitive athletes, according to the University’s 2002 Gender Equity Survey.
And though this fact may not bode well for gender equity, Athletic Director Jim Paschal said that ULV’s women’s teams are carrying more female players in their rosters than in past years.
“I think priorities for women are sometimes a little different,” said Paschal, who also said he hopes to see athletic interest and participation among women improve.
In fact, nationwide participation in varsity sports among women has improved dramatically during the last three decades, according to a 2002 report by the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education.
The report states that in 1971, fewer than 30,000 women competed in intercollegiate athletics, while today more than 150,000 college women compete.
“The low participation rates reflected the lack of institutional commitment in providing athletics programming for women,” the report, “Title IX at 30, Report Card on Gender Equity,” said.
“We try to do the right thing here in La Verne,” Paschal said. “We probably should be proactive and send out questionnaires to inquire if there were more interest. That’s the way of finding out if there is interest.”
“If they (women) showed interest, we would pursue that interest to see how valid it really is,” added Julie Kline, assistant athletic director.
Interest surveys and other ways of measuring the perceived athletic needs of female students are being hotly debated at the national level as Title IX, the 31-year-old law that calls for gender equity in education, is undergoing some revisions.
To reach compliance with the Title IX standards, a three-part test was adopted by the Department of Education in 1979.
This three-part test offers independent ways that schools can show they are providing equal opportunities to their female and male athletes.
The first part, proportionality, or showing that the proportion of female athletes reflects the the proportion of women enrolled at the school, has been most widely used.
For the second test, the school may demonstrate a history and continuing practice of expanding opportunities for the under-represented gender.
For the third, the school needs to meet its female students’ interest and ability to participate in sports.
In recent years, the easiest way for a school to prove its Title IX compliance was to comply with the proportionality measure or show that is was taking steps to reach proportionality.
Before Title IX, female college athletes only received 2 percent of overall athletic budgets and athletic scholarships for women were almost nonexistent. Today women account for 43 percent of college varsity athletes, the Title IX report found.
But some argue such improvements came at the expense of some men’s sports.
Earlier this year, a panel of educators and athletes charged with reviewing Title IX recommended loosening the proportionality requirement.
The panel was convened shortly after the Department of Education was sued by a group of college wrestling coaches, who claimed that their teams, with those of other minor men’s sports, had been cut because of the Department’s enforcement of Title IX.
Michael Moyer, executive director of the National Wrestling Coaches Association, recently told the Los Angeles Times that he would like to see the proportionality measure abolished.
Those who want to do away with the proportionality requirement say schools should find other ways of gauging girl’s and women’s interest in athletics, like having them fill out interest surveys.
But many advocates for women’s equal access to sports, including the American Association of University Women and the California Women’s Law Center, believe that without proportionality, there is no accountability.
So how does this affect the ULV community?
“When schools decide to put most of their money in football and basketball, then yes it weakens it in both sports,” Kline said.
ULV is a Division III school, Paschal said, so such changes in the law will not affect the athletic department here as they would at a Division I school.
“Because we are a Division III school, it is probably easier for us to meet the guidelines,” Paschal said.
“You don’t have the major finances involved,” Kline added.
One of the more contentious issues of the Title IX debate nationally has to do with athletic scholarships.
Since many college athletes, both male and female, would not be able to afford college at all without scholarships, some women’s advocates are concerned that loosening the proportionality requirement would give men an unfair educational edge.
As a Division III school, ULV does not offer athletic scholarships.
“Even without Title IX, we would hope to do everything that is right for both genders,” Paschal said.
The University does participate in all of the sports that the conference sponsors for both men and women, and Paschal said that no one has contacted him in the attempt to add another sport for women.
He did say, however, that a women’s golf team would be added in the future.
Paschal also said he was aware that the percentage of male athletes is much higher than that of female athletes.
In meeting the interest of students who would like to participate in sports, Paschal said, “Interest is not the same as commitment. Students need to set aside two hours a day for practice and games.”
Audralyn Macdonald, a ULV sophomore on the women’s basketball team, said she believes that the low percentage of female participants is not the result of a lack of resources but a lack of interest.
Macdonald said that she has not seen any differences in the resources going to men’s vs. women’s basketball teams at ULV.
She did say, however, that the men’s teams get more audience support.
The women’s team has to be outstanding to draw a big audience, she said.
“There’s always going to be a desire for men’s sports, regardless of how many resources women have,” Macdonald said.
She added that interest in athletic participation for women would improve if they advertised the benefits of participation.
“Not just athletic benefits, but life-long benefits,”she said.
Macdonald also noted the difference in interest and resources and commitment between Division I and Division III schools.
“When you’re in a Division III school, you’re here for the academics; athletics comes second,” she said.
“If you go to a Division I school women have more resources.”
Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.