Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Going down "Hypothetical Lane"

As a follow-up to yesterday's post about Slippery Rock University I decided to crunch some numbers. SRU's student newspaper is citing Judge Donetta Ambrose's decision not to re-open the case "a clear-cut victory" for the university. Ambrose, earlier this month, said that because SRU remained within 2 percentage points of proportionality--a number agreed upon in the April 2007 settlement with female student-athletes who filed a lawsuit after teams were cut--she could not re-open the case brought by some of these initial plaintiffs who were, apparently, trying to prevent the university from cutting swimming and water polo at the end of this season.
Ambrose said she would not go down "Hypothetical Lane." In other words, she could not re-open the case based on numbers that do not exist right now.
Fair enough, I suppose. But I decided to take my own stroll down Hypothetical Lane using numbers SRU has reported to the Department of Education. We don't know what enrollment numbers for academic year 2008-2009 will be, but I am going off the assumption that SRU is planning on keeping a comparable class size and that the proportion of male/female students won't be drastically different in the incoming class. (This assumption is probably a little more tenuous given that I hear rumblings about schools instituting an informal and somewhat covert form of affirmative action for male applicants in order to not totally skew the proportions. But I have to work with what I have right now).
So there are currently 230 opportunities for female student-athletes. Cutting swimming and water polo drops that number to 196. If no men's teams are cut this means that women will be receiving only 48 percent of the opportunities. And if enrollment numbers remain similar, women will comprise just under 55 percent of the undergraduate student body thus creating nearly a 7 percent difference--not even close to the 2 percent difference mandated by the settlement.
But I suspect that administrators at SRU know this already. I can't imagine they haven't bothered to crunch the numbers. It's obvious there are concerned students who are following their decisions and are ready to jump back into action should the need arise.