Softball team steamrolled


Herald Writer

EDMONDS — A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that Edmonds Community College can continue construction of a new on-campus parking lot that displaces the women’s softball field.

In September, members of the women’s softball team filed a class-action lawsuit alleging the college violated their rights after officials moved their practice field to Lynnwood High School.

The men’s baseball team continues to play on the campus.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein ruled that a preliminary injunction, which would have halted construction on the project until the lawsuit was settled, was without merit.

In court papers, the softball players alleged that the 10-minute commute to the new practice location cut into their study time, and that unequal treatment on the basis of sex contributed to a loss of self-esteem.

However, Rothstein ruled that the new practice field is "undisputedly superior to its old field on campus," and that the college provides more than adequate academic and tutorial help for players, whose practice lasts until 4 p.m. three days a week.

"The tutoring center is open every school day at 8 a.m. and two days a week until 8 p.m.," Rothstein noted in her decision.

Nor would halting construction have returned the team to its old field. Sod has been removed and replaced with rocks as construction continues.

In the lawsuit, the softball players allege their rights are being violated under Title IX, which bans sexual discrimination in any educational institution that receives federal money, and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Samuel Schiller, an Oklahoma attorney representing the players, has said that while the team’s former softball field was less adequate, at least it was on the campus.

The lawsuit also alleges that the college provides superior locker rooms, practice facilities and competition facilities for male athletes.

The new lot will provide parking for a joint EdCC/Central Washington University campus building to be completed in fall 2002. The $17.4 million project will add classrooms, and the opportunity for students to obtain several four-year degrees and master’s degrees from CWU at the EdCC location.

Lynnwood High School is the softball team’s proposed permanent field site. The high school and the college are negotiating an agreement under which the schools will share the field. The college has ordered a new scoreboard, backstop and storage shed. And EdCC is providing transportation for the softball team from the campus to the high school.

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