In last week’s issue, sports columnist Luka Ladan published a column in Sports favoring preferential treatment for athletes during the senior housing draw. Ladan argued that student-athletes should be designated to live in housing closer to where they practice each day. We would like to respectfully disagree with the argument presented in his article.
Ladan notes in his piece that his idea is a “common-sense” reform meant to make his life, and the lives of other student-athletes, easier. We, however, see this as creating a divide between those who participate in varsity athletics and those who do not. There are many students on campus who utilize the AFC, including but not limited to intramural and club sports teams, students who take fitness classes there and students who have made going to the gym a regular routine. Shouldn’t senior housing make their lives easier as well?
The walk from the TH’s to the AFC, or from the TA’s to the sports fields, takes 15 to 20 minutes at most. Some students may have the option of bicycling, while others choose to carpool if a nearby teammate has a car. Even without these options, a 15 to 20 minute walk shouldn’t seem laborious to any student-athlete who chooses to dedicate part of their life to running laps, timing miles and working on sprints. The longer walk may eliminate 40 minutes of studying time, but student-athletes—who are already juggling a varsity sport and academics—should know how to budget this into their schedules. Even during pre-season and school break double and triple sessions (where athletes have two to three practices a day), classes would not even be in session at all.
Ladan’s flawed argument is not representative of all student-athletes on this campus. Many student-athletes readily choose to live at the opposite end of campus, knowing that the 15 to 20 minute walk to the field, gym or court each day will provide them with extra time to themselves to listen to music and mentally prepare before a tough practice or game. Other student-athletes like to feel that they have a life outside of their sport, so they choose to live far away from where they practice. Others do not even consider the walk in choosing where to live. Most importantly, not all student-athletes feel that they should be treated preferentially when it comes to senior housing. Even more importantly, not all student-athletes feel that they should receive any type of preferential treatment whatsoever. Ladan’s proposal cannot be “common sense” if it is not even common.
Yet perhaps the most flawed portion of Ladan’s argument lies in the implied notion that athletes and non-athletes on this campus have completely separate experiences. Although we are not disagreeing that athletes and non-athletes do have unique Vassar experiences during their time at Vassar College, what Ladan is effectively doing is creating an “us verses them” mentality by implying that athletes and non-athletes require completely different resources and accommodations while they attend Vassar. There is currently an ongoing movement by many members of the athletic community to bridge the existing gap between members of the athletic community and other students on Vassar’s campus. By claiming that playing a sport allows one access to privileged housing, Ladan only creates tension between the athletic community and rest of campus.
We feel that Ladan’s intentions were not misguided. Athletes on this campus devote a lot of time to the sport that they love. They sacrifice free time and socializing for early practices and long weekend trips. Their dedication to their extracurricular activity should be commended. However, this does not mean that their time or needs should be placed above any other person at Vassar College with commitments just as time-consuming. As we live on a small campus already in Vassar, we should feel lucky that we have the privilege of being within reasonable walking distance from all the resources on this campus. By claiming that certain groups and organizations require treatment, we fall into a slippery slope of self righteousness and greed, while simultaneously creating many divides within our community.
—Meaghan Hughes ’15 is a psychology major. Christopher Brown ’16 is a political science major. Tina Caso ’14 is an art history major.