Letter to the Editor: Athletics Committee

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Athletics Committee, I would like to correct some errors in the Record article last week about student-athlete academic conflicts (“Athletic committee reviews plights of student-athletes,” Oct. 30). The article suggests that student-athlete life was an agenda item for discussion at the most recent faculty meeting. It was not. Rather, as chair of the Athletics Committee, I made a routine annual announcement to remind faculty of the importance of stating their course policy with regard to athletic event conflicts.

More important, it is not the case, as the article reports, that 36 percent of student athletes “have falsely reported having athletic engagements to their instructors.” Rather, in my remarks, I cited a report done by the committee in 2012-13 that studied the number of conflicts experienced by student-athletes, cross referencing course schedules with team schedules. In addition, on a questionnaire administered by the committee, 36 percent of students reported a higher number of conflicts than would have been expected from the other data. There could be many reasons for this: Students may have overestimated the number of missed classes (in which case, two cheers for guilty consciences!), they may have missed classes for other non-athletic reasons or more athletes who missed classes may have responded to the survey.

It does both faculty and student-athletes at Williams a disservice to state that students are falsely reporting athletic engagements to faculty members. The relation between athletics and academics is an important issue for all members of the Williams community, and so it’s gratifying the Record is devoting energy to it. We on the committee are eager to have our work on this issue accurately represented in that larger discussion.

 

Gage McWeeny

Associate Professor of English

Chair of Athletics Committee