Fielding better conversations

We at the Record would like to applaud the faculty for undertaking the work of investigating how student-athletes manage conflicts between academics and athletics. We hope that the group’s work ultimately helps athletes manage their commitments.

 As a liberal arts institution that champions well roundedness, athletics are a crucial part of student life. The 37 percent of Ephs that participate in varsity sports are learning vital skills and pursuing pastimes they can enjoy for the rest of their lives.

It’s important for professors to remember the challenges of being a student-athlete. In a school with such an intensive workload, instructors should be flexible and understand that students have a laundry-load of extracurricular commitments – athletic and otherwise. Students should be allowed to make up assignments missed for legitimate reasons, provided that the student provides advance notice of their conflicts.

 Generally speaking, students do not skip class out of laziness. Particularly at a school like ours where students are frequently expected to attend extra lectures, movie screenings and field trips outside of class hours, scheduling conflicts are inevitable. If a student-athlete cannot attend because of a pre-scheduled game, professors should provide alternative assignments – and many already do.

On the flip side, coaches and captains must recognize that student athletes are, first and foremost, students. Team members should never be expected to prioritize athletics over academics. Athletes who are struggling to stay afloat academically should be encouraged to take the time that they need to complete required coursework.

Moreover, we encourage student athletes to take initiative and discuss scheduling conflicts with professors in advance. Instructors cannot be expected to know students’ game schedules by heart. Students must be proactive and help devise a plan to make up missed assignments. Considering that 36 percent of students have over-reported scheduling conflicts, we also remind student-athletes to have integrity and discuss their prior commitments with professors in an honest, straightforward manner.

Finally, we would like to acknowledge that student-athletes are not the only students at the College with a demanding list of extracurricular and work-related obligations. Students involved in non-sport activities also must juggle academics with time-consuming duties in clubs, organizations and campus jobs. While we do not award athletes a privileged status, we also recognize that their schedule is dictated by the NESCAC; athletes do not decide when and where their games take place. Conversely, student groups specific to the College can tailor their calendars to members’ class schedules.

Ultimately, we recognize that life here is multifaceted. We are a sporty school. We are an artsy school. We are a nerdy school. None of these qualities are mutually exclusive. With a bit of communication and cooperation from all parties involved, there’s no reason why our school can’t continue this tradition of well roundedness.