Olivia Silvey ’25
Melina Korfonta ’25
Trinity announced plans for a Title IX audit, improvements to the Robin L. Sheppard Field, and a feasibility study to improve the softball field in an email to the Trinity community from President of the College Joanne Berger-Sweeney on Thursday, Nov. 4. In the email announcement, Berger-Sweeney also noted that in the future, a committee composed of student athletes and faculty will be used to make decisions relating to athletic facilities. This announcement comes after students publicly pushed for a solution to the inequity in these facilities, specifically from the petition created in late September by Trinity Women’s Athletic League (TrinWAL).
The petition pointed out the differences between the Jessee-Miller field, which is used by men’s lacrosse and football, and the Robin L. Sheppard field used by women’s field hockey and lacrosse. Though both were set for renovation in 2019, TrinWAL pointed out that the football field was completed in summer 2021, while the women’s field still lacked bleachers necessary to host this year’s NCAA Division Three Field Hockey National Championships, as well as the “same spectator experience” as the men’s side. Additionally, the petition called for a full assessment of Trinity’s Title IX compliance by Jan. 2022.
Berger-Sweeney’s email addressed both the field renovations and the call for a Title IX assessment. Trinity is currently working with engineers and the company responsible for bleachers to investigate permanently increasing the height and capacity of the bleachers on the women’s side. For the NCAA tournament, temporary bleachers will be installed that will allow for a capacity of 1,100 sitting and 200 standing. In addition, temporary warming rooms and restrooms will also be set up. These arrangements are scheduled for removal before winter, however a plan for a permanent system is said to be underway.
Regarding the Title IX assessment, the College is currently reviewing various law firms with the plan to hire one for the assessment. This evaluation by an independent firm will “assess the college’s athletic offerings, including issues of equity, facilities, and resources.” The email did not offer any details about the timing of this assessment, and it remains unclear whether this will be completed before the petition’s deadline of Jan. 2022.
In addition to the petition’s demands involving the Robin L. Sheppard field and assessment, the email also included information on changes to the softball field. A design firm is in the process of conducting a feasibility study on building a press box and bleachers for the field, assessing whether these changes are possible. The email stated that the firm is also exploring the possibility of lighting and an artificial surface. All of these changes will have to go through many steps before building, including review from the City of Hartford and the community. Berger-Sweeney noted that providing equitable spaces for the softball team during their season is a priority.
Berger-Sweeney promised that “when considering any future changes to Trinity’s athletic fields” a committee of “student representatives from women’s and men’s athletic programs, staff, faculty, and administrators” will be created to help discuss and review proposed changes “with equity at the core. Earlier in the email, Berger-Sweeney noted that the global supply chain shortages and delays related to the pandemic interfered with these equity issues not being “addressed as quickly as we would like.”
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