In the wake of the College’s decision to grant student athletes priority registration, other busy students are crying foul.
Countless students on campus suffer with time conflicts between classes and obligations to clubs, organizations and jobs. By allowing students who participate in athletics to register for classes early, it overlooks the contributions of non-athletes at the College.
Members of Student Government, for example, have multiple committee meetings and a general body meeting to attend at set times each week. Shouldn’t those students who provide such an important service to the campus community be allowed to schedule their classes around their preexisting responsibilities?
Cast and crew members in productions organized by TCNJ Musical Theatre and All College Theatre have hours of rehearsal every week that often conflict with class times. Are their contributions to the College less important because they are not performing on a field? Or perhaps it is because their ticket sales do not generate as much revenue for the College as football, basketball and field hockey games do.
Members of the College Union Board, Art Society, Synergy Dance Team and even The Signal suffer from time conflicts with classes, as well.
The most distasteful part about this new policy is the fact that priority registration was recently taken away from students with disabilities. Comments on the change.org petition “Reconsider the Priority Registration for Varsity Athletes,” penned by Danielle DeGraw, state that the College thought the practice was unfair. But now, transferring that privilege to athletes is somehow justifiable.
An argument in defense of priority registration for athletes is that their performance reflects that of the College. If students can schedule every class to fit perfectly around their practice and competition schedule, the team is more likely to be present, focused and successful.
One respondent on the petition pointed out, however, that honors students do not receive priority registration. A high number of students taking honors classes reflects even more highly on the College than a strong athletic program. In fact, every organization on campus reflects highly on the College, not just sports.
I enrolled at the College knowing it would help me advance academically and prepare me for a career in my field. I knew before I started as a freshman that the College is a Division 3 school and I did not expect this to be a heavily sports-oriented campus. Having school spirit is incredibly important, but not to the point where athletes are held at an elitist status over non-athletes. Academics should be priority over athletics.
Registration is already a nightmare. As a sophomore, I registered on the seventh day to find that not a single section required for my major or minor was open. I managed to pick three liberal learning classes, but did not enroll in the very few open classes remaining that could satisfy requirements because they conflict with other organizational requirements. Giving priority registration to athletes just makes the registration process even more difficult for non-athletes, who make up a majority of the campus community.
Athletics should do its best to conform to academics, not the other way around. When younger students are able to enroll before upperclassmen simply because they participate in a sport, it makes a patent statement that non-athletes are less important and do not deserve the same privileges.
*This story was originally published in The Signal.