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Investigation Finds ‘Significant Disparity’ Involving Crew Facilities at U. of Southern California

This Allie Bidwell piece about the University of Southern California’s settlement of a longstanding Title IX complaint over its women’s crew program is worth a read today.

A 14-year investigation by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights found that the university was out of compliance with Title IX because the condition of its women’s rowing team’s off-campus boathouse was the “lowest quality at the university,” she writes.

According to a report on the office’s findings, issued last October, the 62-member women’s crew is the third-largest team in the USC athletics program and the largest women’s team at the university, and so the disparity was considered significant.

Here’s the full OCR report The Chronicle obtained. It includes a detailed description of the university’s crew facilities.

The structure itself is a large garage type structure with exposed walls and beams. … One restroom, consisting of one sink and one toilet, is available for everyone—athletes, visiting athletes, and spectators.

The report goes on:

The building has no HVAC systems. … There is no seating area or gathering area for the team. There is no spectator capacity. … There are no shower facilities.

According to the settlement of the case, the university did not admit to any violation of the law, but agreed to provide the team with a facility that includes a separate and enclosed locker room, a lounge area and offices, seating for spectators, and bathroom facilities for each gender. USC agreed to do so by January 31, 2014.

A USC lawyer, Kelly Bendell, said the university was firmly committed to providing equal opportunities for men and women, and that its provisions for women’s crew are among the best in the country, including top-of-the-line boats, oars, and other equipment.

“While USC’s women’s crew team members are satisfied with their boathouse, OCR recommended making improvements to the facility,” Ms. Bendell said.

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