Athletics committee reviews plights of student-athletes

At the faculty meeting on Oct. 16, the Athletics Committee convened to discuss the current state of student-athlete life on campus. The committee focused on scheduling conflicts between class time and interschool athletic engagements. While there is already an established protocol when such conflicts arise, there remains discussion because of a lack of standard action from both the professors’ and athletes’ sides.

Currently, all students must follow the “Division of the Day” rule, overseen by the Calendar and Schedule Committee, which states that the hours from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday and from 7 p.m. to 9:40 p.m. every Monday night are reserved for academic courses. All extracurricular activities, according to the “Division of the Day,” should be scheduled outside these times. However, athletic competitions may conflict with the “Division of the Day,” either because of the time of the game or time needed for travel. In such cases, the Athletics Committee monitors these conflicts, and student-athletes are required to give their professors at least one-week notice.

Regarding the responsibility of student-athletes managing their commitments, Gage McWeeny, chair of the Athletics Committee and professor of English said, “I urged all student-athletes at the semester’s start to consult the list of academic-athletic conflicts and to let their professors know, in person and at the start of classes, about any conflicts they may have due to athletics.”

But even with the Athletics Committee, different professors have different expectations of class attendance, which can affect students’ academic performance. “Academic faculty are encouraged to make their policies on absences clear at the start of the semester, so students are aware of how any absence (for any reason) might affect their performance in the class,” McWeeny said.

While flexiblity is encouraged, according to the Student Handbook, “It is at the sole discretion of the individual instructor whether or not to excuse absences due to athletics (e.g., games), academics (e.g., field trips in other classes) or any other type of conflict.” Also, there are exceptions to the “Division of the Day” rule, which include weekend field trips and evening exams.

In addition to creating conflicts of commitment for student-athletes, scheduling overlaps have also created other problems in the academic culture at the College. According to the last faculty meeting, 36 percent of student-athletes have over-reported conflicts, meaning  that they have falsely reported having athletic engagements to their instructors, and 85 percent of student-athletes have missed optional academic events due to athletics.

Among these issues, there are also a number of other topics being discussed within the Athletics Committee. “We are talking about a number of issues this semester, including ongoing discussions about the protocols around concussions and about how to ensure even in-season athletes are able to take advantage of the full range of intellectual and cultural events, such as lectures and readings, put on by departments and the college,” said McWeeny. “They often are scheduled at 4 [p.m.], which makes it tough for those who are headed to a practice session at that time.”