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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 20, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

ColumnsThe Hot Stove

The Hot Stove: Ithaca College Student Government Association athlete seat remains irrelevant

Though a majority of student-athletes at Ithaca College are involved in some type of varsity, club or intramural sport, their representation among their peers has been practically nonexistent.

In September 2013, the Ithaca College Student Government Association decided to add two new representatives: one for varsity sports and one for club sports.

Then-sophomore track and field athlete Zane Shephard ran uncontested and was named the SGA’s first varsity athletes representative.

In a September 2013 article in The Ithacan, former SGA President Cedrick-Michael Simmons said the purpose of having athletics representatives was to provide a voice for a subgroup on campus.

“The two athletes … will do an amazing job speaking on the behalf of their entire constituency,” Simmons said.

However, it appears the constituency has yet to voice any concerns, as the varsity athletes representative position remains unfilled. Shephard is spending his fall semester in London, and nobody has stepped forward to claim that position, which is a discouraging sign on both ends.

The initial lack of candidates has been a concern since the beginning of the previous academic year, and perhaps the SGA will have to withdraw the seat until there is a growing interest in the position. The SGA eventually appointed the club sports senator, as junior Tim Orrell was appointed in December 2013. But Orrell won an unopposed reelection last April, while the varsity sports senator position didn’t even appear on the ballot.

Shephard said he enjoyed his time partaking in discussions and other organizational events but was not able to pass any bills or make any effective changes to the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

At the same time, this isn’t entirely to place blame on the Shephard or the SGA.

Student-athletes commit to multiple hours on training and competition on top of their academics, but the policies and big decisions fall almost exclusively with the athletic department or the coaches of the individual teams.

In the seven months Shephard held the position, he said, he was never approached by any student-athletes with ideas for improvements for the college’s athletic programs. As a result, Shephard’s presence was only acknowledged by a few people on campus.

Feedback to the SGA may have been helpful with changes, such as the college’s new athletic logo or even simpler things like travel accommodations or funding for equipment.

I truly believe the SGA has the students’ best interest in mind, so it’s the responsibility of the SGA to make sure the college’s athletes are fully represented. At the same time, athletes at all levels need to take advantage of having student representation to speak on their behalf.

But if nothing changes, it’s possible these SGA positions will cease to exist, and student and club athletes will return to being voiceless in the committee run by its students.

Correction: September 23, 2014

The SGA sports positions were misstated in the column. While the SGA varsity athletes representative position remains unfilled, junior Tim Orrell was appointed as the representative for club sports in December, 2013. Instead of stating that both positions are unfilled, Orrell’s current position is made apparent in the column.