By ARIANA BARRETT
For the first time in University of Mary Washington history, the school’s constitution has been reformed to include athletes in student government advisory meetings. Both varsity and club sports will now be represented by this change.
Before, varsity sports were only represented by the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and club sports were grouped with all of campus recreation. Many athletes are in favor of this change and are optimistic of their new representation.
“I think SAAC being added to the school constitution is important because it shows that the school is starting to value the perspective of athletes.” said AJ Robinson, sophomore basketball player and current member of SAAC.
Robinson explains SAAC as a committee “made up of student-athletes assembled to provide insight on the student-athlete experience and offer input on rules, regulations, and policies that affect student athletes’ lives.”
Considering that there are approximately 400 varsity athletes and 200 club athletes, it would only make sense to include them when representing the student body.
Newly elected Student Government Association president Matthew Good, is excited to start his new term with this change, feeling that it is SGA’s responsibility to represent all student views and concerns.
“If you’re an athlete, you’re probably not going to be in SGA or other higher leadership roles, and have to really juggle what you’re in because it all takes a lot of time. Because of that, athletes really don’t interact with the same circles that SGA does when polling student issues.” said Good.
One of the main issues varsity athletes have expressed is having priority class registration, this would reduce the amount of class time that student athletes miss due to games, traveling, and practice. Being in the first pool of students to register would give them a better chance to get into courses that fit their busy schedules.
“We’ve had a lot of athletes bring us some issues lately, especially regarding registration for classes, priority registration, and we’ve been looking at what is the feasibility of athletes that have a lot of constraints on when they can have classes.” said Good.
“I’d just want to see any change that could benefit student-athletes from the viewpoint of teachers. I think there are lots of teachers that are very understanding of the schedules of student-athletes, but unfortunately not all of them.” said Robinson.
With the change in the constitution, hopefully professors and administrators begin to understand the daily struggles student athletes face with balancing their sport and academics. Athletes constantly are asked to choose between the two and being a division three school and not being able to receive scholarships on behalf of their athleticism, their academics suffer at the price of their own money. Whether it is creating more class times or giving them priority registration, many will argue that it is only fair that athletes receive this privilege. Athletes are the face of UMW and fill some of the biggest responsibilities for representing our school.
“We had a task force that was set up that looked at the constitution and was in charge of making it better and so we rewrote it and just in doing research and focus groups and talking to students we found that we should probably include them.” said Good.
The new advisory board that has been created includes all the original organizations that were already on cabinets along with the new additions such as SAAC and other popular organizations such as the Campus Programing Board. They plan to meet twice a month where either the president of the committee or a nominee on their behalf show up to offer recommendations to the legislation.
Good has a meeting this week with SAAC to explain their new position and opportunities they have with the reformed constitution and answer any questions they may have.