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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Lawsuit against University reaches federal courts

On May 23 a lawsuit launched eight years ago against the university by former members of the UC Davis women’s wrestling team began trial in a Sacramento federal court.

The case, Mansourian v. Regents of the University of California, began when former women’s wrestlers Arezou Mansourian, Chris Ng and Lauren Mancuso were allegedly subjected to sex discrimination in the UC Davis varsity athletics program.

A statement released by Equal Rights Advocates (ERA), co-counsel for the Mansourian case, explained that the long-going dispute also had an accompanying case, Brust v. Regents of the University of California, which recently led to the establishment of the Women in Sports Equality (WISE) fund.

“The WISE Fund was borne out of a settlement of a class action suit brought by women club athletes against UC Davis that alleged that women were getting too few intercollegiate athletic opportunities,” according to the statement.

Brust and the other female students who sued the university did so as an effort to enforce Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which specifically prohibits sex discrimination in an educational environment.

UC Davis financed the WISE Fund that came as a settlement from the Brust case at an amount of $110,000. Brust was quoted in the ERA statement as saying she was proud of the good that will come from it.

“While the WISE Funds will one day be spent,” she said, “I am proud that our Title IX suit made a difference at Davis and that other women will continue to benefit from it for years to come.”

Arcelia Hurtado, executive director of ERA, said that although the Mansourian case was held back because the plaintiffs graduated before the class action was certified, there has been much progress made in terms of gender equality as a result of the Brust case.

“After the Brust case was certified as a class action, the parties reached a landmark settlement agreement in October 2009,” she said in an e-mail interview. “One of the key terms of the agreement is that UC Davis will seek to reach specific proportions of male and female athletes by the 2019-20 school year.”

Hurtado went on to explain that this means UC Davis must now accommodate the demand for women’s athletics.

“The university will either add women’s intercollegiate teams or will take other measures to ensure equal accommodation of student interest in varsity sports,” she said.

Some of the tangible benefits of the Mansourian and Brust cases have already begun to appear for women’s athletics in the form of new rugby rucking pads, new field hockey uniforms and payment for travel costs associated with competing at a national level. The WISE Fund covered all of these purchases.

Hurtado said ERA will continue to fight for women’s equality in schools until the equal opportunities and rights women deserve are achieved.

“The Mansourian and Brust cases illustrate why organizations like ERA are still relevant and necessary to ensure women’s equality,” she said. “Laws on the books such as Title IX are meaningless unless there is someone there to enforce them.”

VICTOR BEIGELMAN can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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