Student-Athlete or Athlete-Student?

BY OLIVIA KLOCK

Staff Writer
Five classes in his shopping cart and he better get into at least four of them. If he doesn’t make it into this Accounting 304 class, he can’t take Accounting 420 in the spring. Out of the three times it’s offered, only one doesn’t conflict with his practices and games. If he can’t take it in the fall, his graduation could be pushed back a whole semester. He better get this.

6:59 a.m.: here goes nothing. Enrollment should not be this stressful. Click…
Greeeeeeat.

As a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), SU junior and men’s varsity soccer player Andrew Staedeli has created a proposal to allow varsity sports players the privilege of priority registration for classes.

The proposal is a similar system to what is currently used by the honors program, in regards to staggered registration dates based on number of credit hours earned. Staedeli is proposing that student-athletes be given the privilege to register one or two days before their current enrollment date. For example, a student-athlete who has earned 75 credits would enroll for classes with the current 70-79.9 earned credit students, while the proposal would place that student-athlete with the 90-99.9 earned credit students.

This benefit is a privilege, and not a right by any means, Staedeli said, considering that the proposed requirements that student-athletes must meet are the following: maintain a minimum GPA of 2.75; sophomore standing; earned 27 credits; at least 1 full-time semester completed at SU and continue to be a full-time student at SU. Additionally, only in-season athletes could qualify for the privilege.

“The number of student athletes each semester that will receive this benefit is so small that spread across a campus of more than 8,000 students, the general student body will not be negatively affected,” Staedeli said. “This is only intended to minimize conflict between student-athletes, professors, coaches and administrators – not a way for student athletes to gain an advantage over anyone else.”

Student-athletes may have a difficult time maintaining graduation requirements in a timely manner, given their constraining schedules. In-season athletes typically have practice for two hours a day, in addition to travel time due to away games, which could also cause students to miss class time.

As president of SOAP and Life Vest, as well as vice president of APO, Drew Vogelsang is no stranger to dedicating time to organizations in aims to better the university.

Although Vogelsang thinks the proposal can be fair to student-athletes in a sense, he also thinks its implementation would take away from other students who are also doing things to benefit the school, he said.

“It could be anything from working a job on campus to being the president of SOAP; from small organizations doing community service to Greeks putting time and effort in for their philanthropies,” Vogelsang said.

“I personally am at the point where I cut sleep from my schedule in order to keep up with it, so that would be a pretty good reason for me to be able to sign up early,” said Vogelsang, who has chosen to not reapply for a position on the SOAP Executive Board in order to better manage his workload.

While Staedeli spends his free time studying accounting, accounting is the last thing on his mind when he is playing soccer, he said.

“Other activities are not quite as time consuming, in my opinion, and also have an underlying academic aspect, like SGA, SOAP and RSOs [recognized student organizations],” Staedeli said. “While other organizations on campus do take time, they do not require as extensive traveling as varsity athletics and a continuous every day involvement.”

Another time-consuming activity students can get involved in on campus includes the Salisbury University Student Government Association, an organization whose members must meet various requirements similar to the proposal, including a minimum GPA of 2.5, as well as hold at least six office hours a week, not including time put into holding events.

However, one could argue that athletes have no control over their practice and game times, while students who hold office hours for their organizations usually can choose their preferable hours to best fit the rest of their schedules.

Considering SU prides itself on putting academics before all, SGA Executive Vice President Rachel Doyon is not in favor of the proposal.

“To give athletes an advantage in choosing classes over other students places more value on their extracurricular activities than ours,” Doyon said.

Student athletes play a big role in representing SU, Staedeli said, because everything they do is published either online or in the news.

“We work hard every day to bring success to our athletic programs, but often our academic achievements are swept under the rug,” Staedeli said.

“Many student athletes are even better in the classroom than on the field, and sometimes do not get the chance to showcase their academic talents. This proposal is not intended to take away classes from other students, but is mainly intended to avoid conflict that is otherwise detrimental to a student-athlete’s success,” he said.

Someone who is very familiar with the time commitments of a varsity athlete is senior and women’s lacrosse player Hayden Hutzell, who has been on the team since her freshman year.

Although Hutzell acknowledges that allowing student-athletes to sign up early would help them adjust their schedules to time slots that fit them best and ultimately relieve a lot of stress related to time management, she doesn’t necessarily believe that only student-athletes should receive this privilege. Anyone that is using their time to positively benefit the university by becoming a part of its many programs should be allowed to sign up for classes early, she said.

The fact that SU does not offer athletic scholarships and its athletics are of DIII status is an important factor to consider, Hutzell said, adding that as far as the school is concerned, students are here to study at the university, and athletics and extracurriculars come second.

“I do agree with the fact that school needs to come first, but if someone is involved in a program that is positively impacting the university, they should be allowed to have a few privileges,” Hutzell said.

“I’m not sure the percentage of students that are involved in these types of programs, but I would be willing to bet it’s over half the school – so if more than 50 percent of students got priority registration, it kind of defeats the purpose,” she said.

After working on the proposal for about seven months, the process is starting to finalize, SAAC member Staedeli said.

Staedeli has spoken with the Head Athletic Director, Dr. Michael Vienna, to learn more about the possibilities of his proposal being successful and how to best go about it, then worked closely with him to gather data that shows student athlete academic performance. Staedeli has also met with the Registrar and Associate Registrar to learn about the feasibility of the proposal and how much work it would require to change the enrollment date of the student athletes, as well as Associate Provost, Dr. Melanie Perreault, about the requirements the SAAC has set to gain this privilege.

Staedeli presented the proposal at a recent SGA Forum.

“This is a student based initiative, and I wanted to hear the students’ voice,” Staedeli said.

The SGA Executive Board is now reading the proposal and deciding if it can be brought to a Forum, once again, this time to be voted on by representatives of RSOs. The final step would be to bring the proposal to the Faculty Senate, who would decide on whether it should be enacted by the university.
Whether students are athletes, executive board members, brothers or sisters, they are voluntarily choosing to take on extracurricular activities and therefore, extracurricular time responsibilities, depending on how involved they want to be on campus. If SU begins to allow athletes to take the initiative to sign up early before everyone else, then everyone else could make the same arguments, and the administration may need to prepare itself to review many, many more proposals in the years to come.

*Disclaimer: Olivia Klock is the Vice President of Public Relations on the Salisbury University Student Government Association Executive Board. If/when the proposal is brought to the SGA for voting, she will obstain from voting, nor will she participate in dialogue of the proposal.

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