The Kenyon administration made strides toward rectifying Title IX and accessibility violations on the softball field this past year.
The softball field did not meet the standards of a varsity sports field in several ways: its surface did not recover properly from inclement weather conditions, it did not have a press box and its parking lot did not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility requirement.
Administrators sent out proposals to fund solutions to these problems in January, and the projects were finished by the beginning of September.
Steven Arnett, director of facility operations, saw this project as the product of many driving factors. “We were looking at fixing the issue of the field not draining properly and then that got rolled into the bigger picture of the outdoor athletic field assessment in terms of accessibility and Title IX,” he said.
Assistant Athletic Director Justin Newell applied for funding for the press box in January. In all, its construction, in addition to Internet and cable sources, will cost about $15,000. In August, Maintenance renovated the parking lot at a cost of $22,000.
“There’s a gravel driveway that goes down to a gravel parking lot now,” Arnett said. “That wasn’t there six months ago. … Putting in that driveway and providing that parking lot was step one in terms of making that field accessible.”
Linda Smolak, deputy civil rights and Title IX coordinator, said the new parking lot is one of the most accessible on campus because it is paved and has two spaces reserved as handicapped spots. Many other sports fields’ parking lots are grass.
Yet accessibility issues that need to be addressed still exist, according to Smolak. The nearest handicap-accessible bathroom is on the baseball field, approximately 400 yards away. This, together with the issue of inadequate parking lots, is being addressed by administrators in a committee right now.
Last year, athletic directors from several other schools came to Kenyon to produce a report on the status of the athletic department. In response to the suggestions posed by this external review, athletic department administrators formed compensation and facilities committees. These committees are tasked with creating plans to fix problems identified by the external review.
Arnett is a member of the six-person facilities committee. “Title IX and accessibility are a driving component of design so certainly they’ll have a big impact on the decisions that are made by the committee,” he said.
Smith is on the committee as well. “What we’re looking at is developing a strategic plan for all of the areas down in the lower fields,” he said. “How can that become more community-accessible for all students, faculty, staff, Gambier community? How can we be attentive to any Title IX needs that would be there?”