The women’s lacrosse team of California State University, Fresno has filed a sex discrimination class action against the school for alleged Title IX violations.
Members of the team claim that Fresno State withheld opportunities and financial support from them based on their sex, filing the lawsuit at the US District Court for the Eastern District of California.
Co-captains Abbigayle Roberts and Megan Walaitis said that the past year was the “breaking point” for them and that seeking accountability from the university can no longer wait.
“Fresno State is a great university, I’d tell anyone to come here. [But] it’s not about Fresno State, it’s about Title IX and being equal in athletics,” said Roberts.
“We have to stand up for our rights and fight. We love being here and playing but it’s trying to eliminate our team, already treating us like we’re not a varsity team, and discriminating against women throughout its intercollegiate athletic program,” Walaitis added.
The motion hopes to attain a court order that will reinstate the women’s lacrosse team after being cut on October 16 as a result of federal budget cuts and loss of revenue. Additionally, it asks the court to require the university to treat the women’s lacrosse team fairly by providing adequate locker room space, funding and benefits, and equal support that other varsity teams enjoy.
Arthur Bryant, the attorney representing the athletes, stated that Fresno State had been unfair to the team even before school officials decided to shut the program. The lack of proper equipment is among the major problems cited in the suit.
“When we talk about not having the proper equipment, they’re not setting us up to succeed in our final varsity season, they’re treating us like we’ve already been cut as a program,” Roberts said.
Fresno State issued a response to the allegations, saying that the university stands by its decision to “eliminate three sports teams“ because of the impact wrought by the pandemic.
“The Department of Athletics will ensure continued efforts toward Title IX compliance as a result of these reductions. The University is unable to comment any further in regard to matters involving pending litigation,” the statement read.