Melina Korfonta ’25
Olivia Silvey ’25
In an email to the Trinity community on Monday, Feb. 28, Assistant Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Pamela Whitley provided an update on the Title IX audit for the College’s athletics program. Whitley announced that the College has hired the independent law firm Education & Sports Law Group to conduct the audit. Her email also included the methods that the law firm will use to evaluate Trinity’s athletic offerings including issues of equity, facilities, and resources.
In November, the Tripod reported the College’s plan to conduct a Title IX audit among other objectives including completing renovations to the Robin L. Sheppard Fields and conducting a feasibility study to improve the softball field. President of the College Joanne Berger-Sweeney shared these initiatives to acknowledge issues of gender inequity within Trinity’s athletic facilities following the Trinity College Women’s Athletic League’s (TWAL) online petition to “Stop Gender Inequity in Athletics at Trinity College.” The controversy arose just months before the NCAA Division III field hockey championship hosted at Trinity.
The petition, which has garnered over 2,000 digital signatures to date, was created by women athletes at Trinity who alleged gender disparities in the Jessee Miller (Men’s Football/Lacrosse) and Robin L. Sheppard Fields (Women’s Field Hockey/Lacrosse) renovation projects. At the time the petition was created, the football stadium was near completion while Sheppard Fields still required significantly more work.
“The proposed plan of a stadium capable of holding 1,000 spectators on the sideline of Sheppard Fields (women’s) in preparation for hosting the NCAA final four and championship turned out to be an unimpressive set of 5-row metal bleachers that were set up in a matter of days,” the petition stated. “Regardless of the plans, the end product on the Sheppard side is not the same quality, nor does it provide the same spectator experience as the Miller side (Men’s).
In October, the Tripod spoke with Director of Athletics Drew Galbraith and Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management Joe DiChristina. They attributed the incomplete status of the Sheppard Fields renovation to “manpower and supply chain issues” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Galbraith explained that the College had just received windscreens–used to cover the back of Miller and Sheppard fields–that were included in the original plans. Responding to questions about the end of the Sheppard renovation project, Galbraith stated that “it’s difficult to tell” and the College is “literally at the whims of manpower.”
The audit, which will be conducted this month by attorneys Phil Catanzo and Janet P. Judge, is sectioned into three phases. Phase one includes planning and facility reviews. During phase two, the firm will gather data through interviews with coaches, students, and other involved staff. Phase three will serve as the feedback process which often involves findings and recommendations.
The interviews in phase two involve 12 relevant components that will be relevant to Trinity: (1) provision of equitable participation opportunities; (2) provision and maintenance of equipment and supplies; (3) scheduling of games and practice times; (4) travel and per diem expenses: (5) opportunity to receive coaching, assignment and compensation of coaches; (6) opportunity to receive academic tutoring, assignment and compensation of tutors; (7) provision of locker rooms and practice and competitive facilities; (8) provision of medical and training services; (9) provision of housing and dining services; (10) recruitment; (11) publicity; and (12) support services. The email noted that the only component that is not relevant is scholarship aid because Division III institutions are not allowed to provide athletically related scholarship aid.
Trinity will then use the results of the audit, after phase three’s results and recommendations, to “develop and enact short- and long-term strategies, with the goal of ensuring fair and equitable experiences for all of our student athletes.” Whitley indicated that updates on the audit will be provided periodically during the process, including a summary of the final results and the College’s next steps.