Tuesday, 27 February 2018

UBC Closes The Gap

While there's a general dislike that we, as broadcasters have, towards UBC women's hockey thanks to their excellent recruiting and development of players, the fact of the matter remains that there is less money when it comes to total scholarship money for women's sports than there is in men's sports. Today, though, the University of British Columbia announced that they are going to close the scholarship money gap in a big way as they announced new money specifically for women's athletics!

The new money going to fund women's athletics is appropriately called the Blue and Gold Women's Varsity Endowment Fund, and it extends from a $30,000 anonymous donation to the institution. President Santa Ono spoke at the 2018 ZLC Millennium Scholarship Breakfast today in front of coaches, athletes, and supporters, telling the crowd that there was a need to close the gap that exists at UBC between the funding of male athlete scholarships and female athlete scholarships.

"Although UBC and its partners like the Twenty-8 group have increased financial support for our varsity Thunderbird women, there is unfortunately still a disparity that exists between scholarships for female and male athletes, one that occurs all too often throughout our world in every sector," Ono told the crowd as reported by The Ubyssey's Lucy Fox. "Let us commit today to start to change that and to make it just as possible to succeed as a female athlete, as a male athlete."

On top of that, "UBC has guaranteed it will match up to $100,000 worth of donations to grow the Women's Varsity Endowment Fund, with the possibility to expand that dollar-for-dollar plan should the current strategy 'do very very well,' as Ono stated."

That is an outstanding commitment by UBC, and Preisdent Ono should be commended on his efforts to help close the scholarship gap that currently exists. As Miss Fox points out in her article, "men's teams received almost $200,000 more in scholarship funding from donors and endowments than women's teams" at UBC. The institution has been appropriating more money towards female athletic scholarships in an effort to balance out the monies for each, but the gap still exists. This new endowment will help bridge that gap a little more, and that's excellent news for female athletes!

Having witnessed the excellent women's hockey program at UBC over the last few years, this will further help the program achieve excellence. Granted, they won't see all the money, but every penny helps when recruiting elite talent. UBC won a silver medal at the 2016 U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship and then followed that up with a bronze medal at last year's National Championship. Before falling to Saskatchewan this past weekend, they were the two-time defending Canada West Champions as well. Needless to say, they already have a solid women's hockey program that may only get better with additional scholarship money to spend.

I think this initiative is an amazing step in the right direction for UBC. They're proving not only that they are leaders in academia and research, but they're proving progressive in their quest for equal opportunities for both male and female students. The commitments made today to close the scholarship money gap that exists is an exciting step for women's athletes and women's sports in this country, and I'm hoping that this strategy not only does "very very well" at UBC, but can possibly be the basis for improved sports scholarship funding for women across this country.

As we've seen first-hand over the last few weeks just in women's hockey, there are some exceptional athletes doing incredible things at Canadian universities. They deserve to have their academic pursuits paid for as handsomely as the men are.

Well done, UBC and President Ono. This is university spending that I fully and completely support.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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