On Saturday, Sept. 28, the women of Muhlenberg soccer, volleyball and field hockey each participated in their respective “Play for Equity” games, organized by the Muhlenberg Athletic Leadership Team (M.A.L.T.) to bring awareness to Title IX and the continuing fight for equality. Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 defends individuals from discrimination based on sex in education programs or other programs receiving financial aid.
Men’s soccer also took part in the event, taking on Swarthmore at the Varsity Field. Raising awareness for such a cause is crucial, not only for its longstanding relevance, but also for the fact that it is more prevalent than ever. Not too far removed from the incident at Kent State surrounding the Temple and Maine women’s field hockey teams, where the double-overtime showdown was declared a no contest so Kent State’s football team could get on the field and begin their game. This serves as a reminder that this is an important time to shed light on such a significant topic.
The day was jam-packed with excitement with four games on the menu. Both women’s soccer and field hockey took on Centennial Conference (C.C.) rival, Dickinson, while men’s soccer squared off with Swarthmore, and the Lady Mules of volleyball served up a doubleheader with Dickinson and DeSales.
As the day concluded, both soccer games would end in a stalemate and volleyball would fall in a nailbiter from beginning to end, while the ladies of field hockey would pull out a 1-0 overtime victory that brought them to 6-2 overall.
For the women of Muhlenberg Athletics and for all involved, the “Play for Equity” games meant something truly special. Veteran soccer star Karolyn Kawa ‘20 was certainly thrilled to have been a part of the movement to bring awareness to the issues around Title IX at Muhlenberg.
“As a woman and a Muhlenberg athlete, it was very important to me to raise awareness for Title IX,” said Kawa. “The Title IX Awareness games created a conversation about the topic of equity and its emphasis on impartiality rather than just equality.”
Kawa further explained what exactly Muhlenberg was able to accomplish with these games.
“As the incident that occurred at Kent State wasn’t broadly publicized, Muhlenberg was able to spread the word about the possible violation of Title IX,” Kawa said. “The games gave Muhlenberg a chance to highlight their support for equal and fair opportunities and share knowledge with the Muhlenberg community about the current relevance of Title IX.”
In addition to bringing awareness, there is more that Kawa hopes will spring from these games, including an enhancement of the relationship between Muhlenberg Athletics and its fans.
“I hope this day can rally fans behind all Muhlenberg sports teams. The physical and mental toughness of each team creates a high level of competition that gives Muhlenberg immense pride. The passion, fearlessness and dedication demonstrated by all of the athletes creates an environment for great sports entertainment, regardless of gender,” Kawa added.
However, the entire day could not have been made possible without the leadership and determination of Chloe Buergenthal ‘21 of Muhlenberg field hockey, who, along with the rest of her team, decided to make the day a reality.
“After talking with my team and deciding that this was something we were all passionate about, I told Lily Otu, Assistant Director of Athletics for Student-Athlete Development, who I happen to be working with through my athletics internship, that my team and I were interested in playing a Title IX Awareness game after hearing of the events that occurred at Kent State. From there, she directed me towards M.A.L.T., and then I began to organize,” Buergenthal said.
For Buergenthal, the purpose of advocating for Title IX awareness goes beyond being an athlete and her identification as a woman. Rather, this endeavor spoke to her as an individual.
“While being a woman and an athlete on campus may have made me more aware of the importance of Title IX, this opportunity to promote Title IX information was important to me not because I’m an athlete who happens to identify as a woman, but because I’m an individual who believes in equity, and I see Title IX as an integral piece of that,” she added.
With the success of “Play for Equity,” Buergenthal hopes to educate the Muhlenberg community about the policies set in place entirely for the sake of the people.
“I’m hoping that the playing of these games will show the Muhlenberg community that there are people on campus and procedures in place to help them in a large variety of ways, all catered to them,” Buergenthal continued. “I also wanted to raise students’ intellect concerning Title IX policies, both nationally and here at Muhlenberg, so that they will be versed in the equality that they are entitled to, and now know that they don’t have to tolerate any kind of discrimination or harassment.”
For the future of Title IX, Buergenthal only has one desire.
“I hope that it becomes more and more inclusive, progressive and efficient as we become a society that sees its own shortcomings and failures,” she concluded. “I also hope to see a day in which it can be universally agreed that legislation like Title IX is not only mandatory, but necessary.”