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Women Wrestlers Go to the Mat for Equal Rights

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Eliza Beeney,
Eliza Beeney, Women's Rights Project
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August 8, 2011

According to its website, “UC Davis and its Department of Intercollegiate Athletics are committed to gender equity and adherence to federal Title IX requirements.” But it didn’t seem that way to Arezou Mansourian and many of her female teammates on the school’s wrestling team. Last week, a federal court agreed with the women that the university failed to follow the requirements of Title IX, the federal law passed in 1972 to eliminate sex discrimination at institutions that receive federal funding.

Mansourian, Lauren Mancuso, Nancy Chiang and Christine Ng chose to attend the University of California, Davis (UCD), because the school offered women’s wrestling. Shortly after they arrived on campus as members of the coed wrestling team, the women were notified that they were no longer allowed to be on the team. This not only included being ineligible for participating in matches, but also barred them from services that the team is entitled to, like medical and athletic training services, laundry services, academic tutoring, insurance and access to the weight room. Their male counterparts still reaped all these benefits.

Like any good wrestlers, the women fought back and sued the Regents of the University of California for sex discrimination and violating Title IX. The ACLU filed an amicus brief highlighting the problems with UC Davis’ policies surrounding women’s sports. We noted that women’s wrestling has grown tremendously in the past 15 years and women should be encouraged (rather than barred) from participating in such activities. At UCD there are proportionally more athletic opportunities for men than for women, contradicting the provisions of Title IX. We are glad that, nearly 40 years after Title IX was enacted, the court reaffirmed schools’ obligations to comply with its mandate for gender equality in athletics.

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