Fighting for Women's Equality

New Case: Cal Women’s Field Hockey Fights to Take Back Field

October 9, 2014 | by
ERA clients Monica, Courtney, and Kristen. PHOTO: Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group

ERA clients Monica, Courtney, and Kristen.
PHOTO: Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group

Equal Rights Advocates is proud to represent three women of the UC Berkeley field hockey team in their bid to take back their field, a fight that has made headlines throughout the Bay Area this past week.

This year, school administrators revoked the team’s on-campus practice and competition privileges to enable the construction of a practice field for men’s football and lacrosse. Without a regulation field and turf, UC Berkeley’s top-ranked field hockey team is forced to make a 3-hour round-trip to a regulation-sized field at Stanford. This is a violation of federal law prohibiting discrimination against women at schools.

“Title IX requires all schools that receive funds from the federal government, like UC Berkeley does, to give women and men equal athletic and educational opportunities,” said Keasara “Kiki” Williams, staff attorney at ERA. “Taking Maxell Family Field away from the women’s field hockey team, and making it available for men’s athletics teams instead, is a clear case of unequal treatment.

Berkeley not only failed to consider the legal ramifications of its actions, it ignored the personal burden imposed on each of these women, who are student as well as athletes. One ERA client in the case must now take an extra semester of school, because several classes she needs to graduate conflict with the new practice schedule forced on the team by the demands of traveling to Stanford. Another has been unable to declare her major. “These students came to UC Berkeley to follow their dreams, not fight for fair access to opportunities,” said Williams.

“It’s really hard when all you want to do is play hockey. It’s not just a sport for us, it’s our lives. It’s why we’re here,” ERA client Courtney Hendrickson told the San Jose Mercury News. “And, of course, getting a great education. Right now, we’re not getting either of those things.” (You can read the rest of the Mercury News‘s story on the case here.)

ERA has a long history of representing women athletes, most recently the women’s wrestling team of UC Davis. To learn more about our Education Equity campaign, click here.

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