The University of Alaska-Anchorage has announced plans to renovate athletic facilities to create two additional locker rooms that would provide more space to female athletes. An internal investigation into concerns the athletic department’s gender equity revealed that due to the men’s basketball and hockey teams currently each have their own locker rooms and individual lockers for each player, which contributes to an overall disparity in which 57% of male athletes have individual lockers compared to 13% of female athletes and in which male athletes averaged 11 square feet of locker room space compared to seven square feet per woman.
UAA agreed to conduct the investigation after an anonymous individual filed a complaint with Office for Civil Rights; OCR has accepted UAA’s report and plan of action, obviating the need for further investigation on this issue. UAA is still in the process of investigating and reporting on the other disparities raised in the complaint, which related to the quality of coaching and access to medical training.
I was disappointed that the article about the locker room findings does not quote UAA’s athletic director. As you may recall from our prior post about this complaint, he was shocked (shocked!) at the suggestion that the university discriminated against female athletes. He said, “This complaint is mind-boggling to me. To tell the truth, I can’t wait for them [OCR] to come up here….The idea that we are disadvantaging our women athletes is absolutely ridiculous.” Is his mind still boggled, or is he getting his head around the fact that discrimination in fact occurs?