With the recent announcement of the 2022 Cortaca Jug game being held at Yankee Stadium comes a multitude of emotions, ranging from excitement to confusion. In any other situation, this would be seen as an incredible opportunity for Ithaca College’s Department of Athletics and for the college community. Moreover, it should be an exciting piece of news, and the community should be overjoyed with the opportunity to have a fun weekend away from campus that is filled with school spirit. However, the circumstances do not allow for this excitement to spread to everyone.
The college is currently evolving — for better or worse. The community is facing a landslide of changes, including program additions, faculty and staff cuts, financial instability and a global pandemic, and as we return and try to stabilize our community, the college is adding to the landslide with this announcement. It’s easy to parade around with excitement over the news, but there are some students, faculty and staff members who just can’t find it in themselves to celebrate or be joyous over next year’s event. Many are wondering how the college cannot afford to hire more staff members; how 116 full-time equivalent faculty positions were eliminated; how departments across the college have seen significant budget cuts; how the library at a private college had to decrease its hours; and yet, the college is going to host the game at Yankee Stadium in New York City and possibly provide same-day transportation for its students.
A sense of unity within our community is essential, especially following the aftermath of the decisions made by the Ithaca College Board of Trustees and the Senior Leadership Team. There is no denying that this game will be an incredible experience for many members of this community — it will provide the football team with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and students in the Roy H. Park School of Communications, the School of Music and the School of Business will receive valuable career experience. This game could heal some of the open wounds left behind from the previous academic year by providing a distraction or alternative to the day-to-day worries many have about the college. It could be beneficial for mental health among students to spend time just enjoying a game in the city.
This does not justify nor does it rationalize how the college cannot provide its students, faculty and staff with the necessities they need because of the financial difficulty they have proven over and over that the college is facing. Before we can celebrate or rejoice as a community, the college’s needs should be met first. In order for these concerns to be quelled, the college needs to be transparent in its current financial situation and make it clear how it intends to finance this football game.
From one perspective, the college looks like it may be favoring the athletic community over the basic needs across campus. The college needs more staff and faculty members and increases in budgets in nearly every department and office, but what the college doesn’t need is to put on a flashy performance for one weekend while neglecting its obligations to its students and the community as a whole.